Going to Gainesville

South Florida volleyball met at Beef O’ Brady’s Sunday night to put on its dancing shoes.

USF will tango against Florida State at Gainesville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.

A year ago the Bulls met in the Green and Gold room in the Sun Dome with just 12 faces hanging low as they found out they would not be going to the 2001 tournament.

It was a change this season with the players already knowing that they were going to the 2002 tournament, and their friends and family watching for their seeding in a banquet room of the restaurant.

“I think it was awesome,” senior Ale Domingos said. “We were just waiting to see who we were going to play. It’s going to be fun to play at Gainesville, and we are going to be able to have fans.

“We can make it our home court.”

The Bulls will not have to travel far with the first four teams in their bracket being from Florida. If the Bulls make it past the Seminoles, they will face either Florida or Central Florida in the second round.

“It’s a good chance for us to make it a grand finale,” Domingos said. “It will be a chance for us to show what the program is all about. It will be all Florida teams, so we are going to show our program to a lot of people.”

The Bulls fans will get a chance to travel up I-75 when it is announced today whether or not the opening match will be on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

“That’s phenomenal, that we can have fan support,” senior Maryann Mooney said. “They have been awesome.

“Us giving them a chance to see us play is good.”

As the 2002 Conference USA Tournament champions, USF earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Seminoles made the tournament as an at-large bid.

USF posted a 29-6 record, going 15-1 in C-USA play. FSU was 19-11 overall and 10-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Bulls beat the Seminoles 23-30, 30-28, 30-28, 27-30, 15-4 on Oct. 29 in Tampa.

“I’m excited to play FSU, because we are both playing good volleyball now,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “We are both playing on a neutral court and it’s almost home court advantage, because there are so many Bulls fans up there.”

The Bulls lost to Cal Poly 11-15, 15-13, 13-15, 12-15 in the first round of the 2000 tournament.

After winning C-USA, now the Bulls set their sights on the nation.

“That’s one of our goals that we set, that we were not willing to die in the first round,” senior Michelle Collier said. “It’s definitely going to be tough.

“Any time you play in NCAA its tough. We have nothing to lose.”