Halloween came a night early for the USF volleyball team, and the Saint Louis Billikens came dressed as the Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters – very soft in the middle.
With USF’s coaches in costume for pregame warm-ups and USF’s middle blockers Bonnye Glover and Shameka Mitchell repeatedly victimizing the heart of the Billikens’ (10-11, 6-6 in Conference USA) defense, the Bulls (16-7, 9-3 in C-USA) swept Saint Louis 30-15, 30-27, 30-23 Tuesday. Glover and Mitchell combined for 24 kills as the Bulls won their fourth straight match, all by 3-0 margins.
“It’s a competition every day between those three (Mitchell, Rachel Jobes and Glover),” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “Those three players know that if they’re not getting it done, there’s someone on the bench ready to come in behind them. And that shows in their numbers, I think all three are in the top 5 in C-USA in hitting percentage. Bonnye came in and did exactly what she needed to do.”
It was an especially sweet match for Glover, who sat out the last match against Houston when Mueller only played Mitchell and Jobes in the middle.
Against Saint Louis, Glover was nearly automatic, connecting on 13 of 16 attempts with only one error. Glover’s 13 kills was a team high and her .750 attack percentage was the third best mark in C-USA this season.
“Our passing was excellent,” Glover said. “This was the best passing game we were able to run the middle off of. Ale (Domingos) really trusted me and went with me a lot.”The Bulls doubled up the Billikens, 30-15, in the first game. Michelle Collier had a well-rounded first game, leading the team in kills (3), aces (3) and digs (6). USF as a team hit .407 compared to SLU’s .086.
The Bulls scored the first point of Game 2, but didn’t hold the lead again until a kill from Mitchell made the score 24-23.For the second straight match, the Bulls negated one of C-USA’s best hitters. SLU’s Colleen Hunter, third in kills per game and owner of three of the 10 best single-game kill totals in C-USA, managed just 12 kills and hit .152.
“We frustrated her,” Glover said of Hunter. “By slowing her down, Shameka and Jo (Jolene Patton) and everybody made a bigger effort for blocking her.”
Hunter had 25 and 29 kills, respectively, in her last two matches. Averaging more than five kills per game, Hunter was three off her average Tuesday.
“We have a lot of quickness on our team, especially our middles,” Mitchell said. “We were getting up there before she got set the ball, so she didn’t know what to do, cause wherever she swung, our hands were up there.”
Bulls junior Maryann Mooney came in first place in the costume contest with her pink hair and matching feather boa. Buccaneers’ quarterback Brad Johnson, in attendance as himself, came in second.
This was the first of two meetings in less than a week between the Bulls and Billikens. Tuesday’s matchup was originally scheduled for the Best Western Invitational Sept. 14, but was canceled following the events of Sept. 11. The two squads will face off again Sunday in St. Louis.
“We can’t get too cocky (because we see them again Sunday),” Glover said. “Stay focused, keep our heads in the game, but that’s what we do best.”
- Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at email@example.com