The USF volleyball team hopes to continue a run of dominance tonight when UCF comes to Tampa.
The Bulls have won 17 of 19 matches between the two teams since 1992 and lead the series 44-20. But USF faces a greater challenge than in years’ past, the Knights front line includes the Atlantic Sun Conference kills leader Emily Watts.
“I think that anytime we face an in-state team, we face a little extra motivation, because you never want to lose to another in-state team,” coach Nancy Mueller said. “It involves a great deal of pride. UCF continually puts a very good team on the floor, and last year it was a dogfight for us to win. It really is a great rivalry that brings out the best in both teams.”
In addition to Watts’ 4.37 kills per game, the Knights get 3.05 kills per game from Tanya Jarvis and an ASC-leading 11.66 assists per game from Jenny Frank.
UCF enters the match 7-3 with a six-match winning streak, while the Bulls enter at 6-9 and are coming off Tuesday’s 3-0 loss against Florida. The game was moved from the Corral to the Sun Dome because the No. 3 Gators drew a larger crowd than most USF opponents.
“I think (playing in front of the different size crowds) does make a difference,” Mueller said. “There was a great atmosphere on Tuesday night, but we are back home (in the Corral) now, and this is where we are most comfortable. We definitely like playing in this gym.”
But Mueller knows returning to the Corral will not be enough to win the match. The team needs to sharpen its game to counter the powerful front duo of the Knights.
“We can only try and contain players like that, because great players are going to get their kills,” she said. “We are going to focus on trying not so much to limit their kills, but cut down total attempts. I think our blocking has already been pretty successful this year, so hopefully we can find a way to contain them.”