The USF volleyball team batted 1.000 this week, going 3-for-3 on their road trip. The Bulls (19-7, 11-3 in Conference USA) have now won eight consecutive conference matches, and seven straight overall.
The Bulls’ last loss came Oct. 21 at Alabama. USF is undefeated in C-USA since being swept Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati (18-5, 14-1) and dropping a five-set match to Louisville Oct. 7.
“We’re starting to play better,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said.
“Momentum is key and we have it. Winning three in a row on the road will give us an advantage over other teams in the C-USA Tournament.”
Sunday, the Bulls swept Saint Louis for the second time in less than a week, winning 30-24, 32-30, 30-26. USF’s last seven victories have all been 3-0 sweeps, a new USF record. The Bulls’ all-time record against SLU increases to 10-1.
Michelle Collier had a stellar weekend for the Bulls. Friday against Memphis, she topped 2,000 career kills (19-8, 6-8) with a 16-kill, 17-dig performance, both match highs. Collier’s contributions against the Tigers also included four aces and three blocking assists, in addition to her .333 attack percentage. Collier had 15 kills and eight digs Saturday vs. the Otahkians of Southeast Missouri State.
The Bulls again received consistent performances from their middle blockers this weekend. Without freshman Rachel Jobes, sidelined with a possible broken wrist, USF relied heavily on Bonnye Glover and Shameka Mitchell.
Glover contributed seven blocking assists in the 30-19, 30-17, 30-10 Memphis victory, as well as a .500 attack percentage. Saturday, Glover tied Collier for the team high in kills with 15 vs. Southeast Missouri State during USF’s 30-20, 30-27, 30-22 triumph.
Mitchell also excelled this weekend, collecting 11 kills on 17 attempts against the Otahkians. Mitchell made a single attack error in the match Saturday, allowing her to strike for a .588 clip.”They’re starting to get in a rhythm,” Mueller said of her middle blockers, though she could have said the same about her entire team. “We’re getting an even distribution (of the ball) from (setter) Ale (Domingos), which is making us more balanced.”
Domingos facilitated 170 kills in three matches from the USF attack, averaging 15.6 assists per game. Five different Bulls had 10 or more kills in a match this weekend.
“When we’re running a balanced offense, other teams are going to have a hard time keeping up,” Mueller said. “Ale knows how and when to get the ball to our middles.”
Mitchell and Glover were the backbone of a stingy Bulls defense against Memphis. The Tigers couldn’t manage to hit higher than their first-game .064 attack percentage. For the match, Memphis hit .059. Only Evansville’s .039 attack percentage Sept. 7 against the Bulls was more meager than the Tigers’ showing. The USF back row had no problem scooping up the Memphis attack, as Collier, Jolene Patton and Kelly Mathiasmeier recorded double-digit digs. Domingos and Lindsay Guidish had nine and eight, respectively, as all nine Bulls who saw action registered at least one dig. USF outdug UM 66-41.
“I thought their hitters had good velocity, but our defense was crisp,” Mueller said. “Our defense executed the game plan and did exactly what it needed to do.”
- Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at email@example.com