Competition can lead to excellence, and in the case of South Florida volleyball, one of its key positions has been influenced by competition all season.
The Bulls have four middle blockers listed on their roster, before Rachel Jobes made the switch to right side hitter.
With the remaining three middles, the Bulls use the depth to their advantage.
“It’s part of the game to compete,” junior Bonnye Glover said. “So for me, I play better when there is competition. They are intense practices. That’s true for any position on this team because we have such a deep bench.”
Glover, sophomore Shameka Mitchell and freshman Corinne Walsh make up the Bulls’ triad of middles.
The three make a stronger force because each one pushes the other in both practices and games.
“They have more experience, but I think we are very well rounded and we are all good,” Walsh said. “We are all competitive, so it helps out, and it makes each other better by doing better.”
All three have starting experience with Glover recently replacing Walsh in the starting lineup.
“Everyone wants to help each other and the only way we are going to help each other is by being competitive,” Walsh said.
Each player is required to work harder because there are two others behind her wanting the starting spot.
“My play is a lot better because I have people behind me that are pushing me,” Mitchell said. “When Corinne came this year, she’s a really good freshman and has a lot of experience and puts a lot more pressure on the middles.”
The reason the Bulls have jumped out to a 19-5 overall record and went 4-0 in Conference USA is because of their depth, which both wears down opposing teams and pushes internal competition.
“It’s kept me on my toes,” Glover said. “I think that we are all excellent middles, and we each bring something different to the court.”
Even with the intensive competition between the three, the Bulls never take the tension off the court.
“It’s like coaches always say, ‘If you have a problem on the court, leave it on the court. If you have one off the court, leave it off the court,'” Mitchell said. “We’ve never carried anything anywhere else.”
The three middle blockers all bring hard work and talent to the table, with not much statistical difference.
Walsh has 1.13 kills a game with a .383 hitting percentage with Glover at 2.23 kills a game and a .329 percentage and Mitchell posting 2.45 kills a game and hitting .279.
Glover has 66 total blocks while Mitchell has tallied 58 and Walsh 29.
The middle blockers will need to push themselves to overcome a sluggish match against Miami in which the Bulls lost for the first time in nine matches.
After the match, USF coach Nancy Mueller said they needed to work on blocking and accuracy.
“We were outblocked,” Mueller said. “We need discipline with our defense set up around our blocks.”
USF travels to Houston today and TCU Saturday for C-USA matches.