Youth equals inconsistency

When half of a team is newcomers, there is going to be one factor that lingers throughout the season– inconsistency.

The USF volleyball team learned this during its four matches this weekend, splitting four games after being plagued by a wavering defense.

USF (4-3) won two of three games during the Florida Atlantic Tournament Friday and Saturday, but lost 30-26, 31-29, 30-28 to Florida International on Sunday.

“We were lacking a bit of ball control, and our defense wasn’t good, either,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “I think with any team as young and with as many new players, you are going to have inconsistencies, and we are still working on that.”

While the younger players have not mastered their game, the Bulls have been able to count on one consistent player through their first seven matches.

Junior Shameka Mitchell continued her high-quality play by posting a match-high 15 kills against FIU, while adding 19 kills in a win against The Citadel.

Mitchell also flirted with a triple-double in a victory against FAU on Friday, posting 21 kills, 11 digs and seven block assists.

“Shameka has been our most consistent player,” Mueller said. “She is going to be our go-to player until somebody steps up and helps her take over some of that load.”

Senior Melayne Wootan also had a good weekend, posting the first two double-doubles of her career.

Wootan had 10 digs and 43 assists against The Citadel, while adding 12 digs and 54 assists in a loss to Maryland.

“Melayne is a senior, and she is stepping up at some crucial moments and continuing to do that,” Mueller said. “She is just doing her job.”

The younger Bulls will need to remedy their inconsistencies when they travel to the Kansas State Wildcat Classic on Friday.

The Bulls open the tournament against No. 14 Kansas State.

“I think a little bit of (solving the inconsistencies) is time, and a little bit is maturity,” Mueller said. “And that comes from hard work in the gym.”