A key ingredient in sports is to always have depth. Much like if your cell phone battery wears down, it would be nice to have a spare around to keep you going.
One of the keys to the success of South Florida’s volleyball team has been its ability to go to its bench when needed.
The Bulls improved to 16-4 and 4-0 in Conference USA after defeating Tulane 30-23, 27-30, 32-30, 30-19 and Southern Mississippi 30-28, 30-23, 30-18.
“I think it’s important to have depth,” coach Nancy Mueller said. “One of the successes of our team is to be able to go pretty deep into our bench and not have the level of play drop.”
In Saturday’s victory against Southern Miss (10-9, 2-2), the Bulls played junior Bonnye Glover in the middle blocker position after she performed well Friday against Tulane subbing in for freshman Corinne Walsh.
Walsh, who previously had a season hitting percentage of .437, hit only minus-.143 against the Green Wave (9-10, 1-2).
Glover came into the match and tallied 10 kills and a .471 percentage. Against the Golden Eagles, Glover had eight kills and three block assists.
“(Walsh) struggled a little bit Friday and Bonnye was able to come in and do a few things,” Mueller said. “Bonnye played well Friday, and I thought she deserved to play Saturday.”
Junior Jenny Scholle also saw action off the bench Saturday, hitting .333 with five digs and four kills.
“(Scholle) played a lot of right side,” Mueller said. “Rachel’s kills were struggling a little bit, and Jenny stepped up to the plate. She had a couple of block assists and was able to do a nice job for us.”
Against the Golden Eagles, Shameka Mitchell hit .471 to lead the Bulls on the night. She had 12 kills, which was second to Michelle Collier’s 18 against the Eagles.
Mitchell also had a strong match against the Green Wave with 10 kills and eight block assists.
“Shameka is a very explosive athlete. She is pretty much unstoppable when she transitions well in the middle,” Mueller said. “She just hits around or over people. She had a great match against Southern Mississippi and transitioned well.”
Mitchell’s eight block assists led the Bulls against Tulane in a match in which they totaled 23.
“One of the things we did against Tulane is blocking,” Mueller said. “That was one of our best blocking matches all year.”
The motivation for the Bulls’ aggressive blocking was the containment of C-USA’s player of the week, Tulane’s Britney Hurst.
The Bulls held Hurst to 16 kills while hitting .115.
“We were definitely able to contain her. We served aggressive,” Mueller said. “She is one of best players in this conference. I think we did a great job containing her. She had a few more hitting errors because of our blocking.”
Senior Ale Domingos also had a strong match against the Green Wave, hitting .625 with 59 assists.
Domingos had a strong match after having an off match last week against Charlotte with only 45 assists and junior Melayne Wootan coming in to spell her.
“We never in the past had this much depth,” Mueller said. “It’s very reassuring as a coach to put a player in and have our level of play not drop at all.”
Bryan Fazio covers USF volleyball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org