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Bulls go back on road

South Florida volleyball goes on the road for the first time today since Aug. 31 to face Florida Atlantic.

USF (7-3) opened the season in Malibu, Calif., at the Howdy’s Pepperdine Classic before coming back to Tampa for seven straight matches.

The Bulls dropped the first two road matches to Michigan 30-27, 23-30, 32-30, 27-30 and No. 14 Pepperdine 26-30, 30-24, 30-26, 25-30, 11-15.

“Travel always makes it a little more difficult,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “We may have some kinks to work out, but we’ll jump out on the court during our pre-game rituals.”

With their defeat to Michigan State Saturday, the Bulls now face the challenge of playing after a loss for the first time since they started their seven-match winning streak against Clemson on Aug. 31.

“We worked out some of the kinks from this past weekend, so I think we’ll be fine,” Mueller said.

After dropping a match in which Mueller said their blocking and defense against the slides were not up to par, USF faces an Owls (5-8) team that has not beaten the Bulls in 10 tries.

“I don’t know that much about them,” Mueller said. “I think we are going to go into the match against FAU like we did against Michigan State or anyone else.”

The match will give USF a chance to further their standing as one of the top teams in the state.

The Bulls also face Florida A&M Sept. 24, Central Florida Oct. 15, Miami Oct. 21 and Florida State Oct. 29.

“We are really focusing on being one of the best teams in the state this year,” Mueller said. “This will be our first test (today). We’ll see how we do.”

USF and No. 2 Florida, which is regarded as the top team in the state, will not meet this season because of scheduling conflicts.

Along with being recognized as one of the top teams in-state, USF is now officially considered one of the top teams nationally. In the recent AVCA/USA Today poll that came out Sunday, the Bulls received 16 votes.

“I think it’s a good start. I think that we’re making an impression not just within the conference, but regionally and nationally,” Mueller said.

“I think it’s a good start, and who knows what the future will bring.”

Bryan Fazio covers volleyball and can be reached at