Inconsistency plagued the Bulls once again as they faced No. 3 Florida Gators. USF fell to a 30-25, 30-15, 30-20 loss at the Sun Dome.
USF began the match forcing the Gators into hitting errors until UF broke a 6-6 tie on a Jane Collymore kill.
The Gators never looked back.
“Game 1, we came out pretty strong,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “We played them pretty tough. I think we did a pretty good job.
“We forced them to make some errors (and) to set the ball to their outside hitters a lot more and took them out of their offense a little bit.”
UF took advantage of its size and hitting ability, both from the floor and beyond the service line.
“We thought the jump serve could be effective, because they don’t have an abundance of jump servers on their team, so they don’t see it often in practice,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “We were just lucky enough that Jane Collymore and Aury (Cruz) were in a good serving rhythm.”
The Gators were able to overpower USF, starting from the serve where Cruz and Collymore effectively used jump serves on the Bulls.
“Aury and Jane Collymore were serving aggressively with the jump serve, and we had too much motion in our pass,” Mueller said. “And it was going over the net quite a few times and not leaving our setter any options.”
Collymore connected on four service aces to add to her match-high 14 kills.
The match-high honor was shared with two of Collymore’s teammates, Cruz and Benavia Jenkins.
Besides USF’s lack of blocking, the defense also suffered on the floor, tallying 32 digs compared to the Gators’ 47.
When the Bulls got to a ball on the ground, they struggled to pass accurately, which is something they haven’t been able to do consistently all season.
During the second game, USF struggled to pass and had several missed hits.
“We just had a bad second game of passing,” senior Fran Pozzi said. “I think we passed pretty well in the first and third game. It was just one part of the game that we passed pretty badly,”
The inconsistency of the Bulls’ passing allowed them to only muster 13 percent hitting for the match.
In the second game USF failed to get a block on the ball, allowing the Gators to terminate 18 balls for 45 percent hitting.
USF held the Gators closer in the third game, matching them with three team blocks and posting its highest single-game kill total of the match with 13.
“It’s what she said and what we said,” USF junior Shameka Mitchell said. “And how we looked toward people who were watching us play. We knew we’re being inconsistent and needed to step it up, because people came to watch us play.”
The Gators came out in the third game like they finished the first two, going to an eight-point lead.
USF showed resilience, however, when they brought the game within one point on a 7-1 run.
During the streak, the Bulls’ passing game finally clicked, allowing junior Shameka Mitchell to kill three balls and forcing the Gators into two attack errors.
But the Bulls could not match the Gators’ final push and were defeated by their opponents’ efficiency and serving.
With the game 27-20, Collymore connected on a service ace to lift the Gators within two points of the victory. Jenkins followed with a kill before Collymore clinched the match with an ace that bounced.
“It’s a disappointing loss ,but it’s good that we even get to play a team like Florida or a Georgia Tech,” Mitchell said. “In the end it’s going to help us in (Conference USA.,) That’s why we play these types of games right now. (It prepares) us for conference so we know what to do in those situations.”