Volleyball team makes three-city swing

The USF volleyball team has a stretch of three matches in three days this weekend, and the Bulls hope it isn’t the last time this season they have a run like this.

“Three games back-to-back will make us more prepared for the Conference USA Tournament, where we’ll hopefully have matches on three straight days,” said USF coach Nancy Mueller. “It should be physically exhausting for the team, but it will make us better prepared.”

Compounding the Bulls’ troubles is the fact they have to play in three different cities in as many days. Today, the Bulls (16-7, 9-3 in C-USA) square off with Memphis (18-7, 5-7 in C-USA).

“Don’t let their record fool you,” Mueller said of Memphis. “They’re a well-rounded team with a little more balance than we’ve seen lately from Saint Louis and Louisville. In their gym, I expect them to have an advantage on us.”

The Bulls’ road swing continues Saturday when they travel to Cape Girardeau, Mo., to play Southeast Missouri State (12-11). The Otahkians compete in the Ohio Valley Conference, where they have an 8-5 record. The trip comes to an end Sunday with USF’s second match in less than a week against Saint Louis (10-11, 6-6).

“The sheer fact that they’re on their home court means it will be tough (to beat them twice in five days),” Mueller said. “They’ll be ready to play on Sunday, not at all like they were (here) on Tuesday. On their home court, with rally scoring, it’s going to be tough.”

With a 9-3 mark in C-USA, the Bulls are now tied for third place in the conference standings with DePaul, which earned a 3-2 victory vs. USF Sept. 29. Cincinnati leads C-USA with a 12-1 mark in conference play. The Bearcats have won 14 straight matches.The C-USA Tournament starts Nov. 15, and the top four teams will receive byes in the first round. The Bulls’ conference schedule is completed next weekend when they host C-USA cellar dweller Southern Mississippi (7-16, 2-10) and Tulane (15-10, 6-6). Of the remaining four C-USA foes on the Bulls’ schedule, none possesses a better record in C-USA play.

“If we want to accomplish our goals, (we’re in a must win situation),” Mueller said.

“The top four is where we want to be. That would be a good situation for us going into the C-USA Tournament.”

  • Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at oracleanthony@yahoo.com