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Conference game puts freshmen to the test

The USF volleyball team has used four newcomers this season, including three freshmen, who have proven capable of playing Division I-A volleyball. However, they haven’t proved consistent thus far this season.

Freshmen Ashley Reavis, Johari Williams, Nicollette Barron and senior Fran Pozzi now enter the Conference USA season with targets attached to them, and they don’t know what they’re getting into.

“They know this much about conference: They know who the top teams in the conference are,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “And, they know that USF has a big target on their back because (of) what we did last year.”

The Bulls tied for first place in C-USA in 2002 and won the conference tournament.

The first-time Bulls now have 16 matches under their belts and have become familiar with the college game, but, they are not aware of the difference in conference play.

“I think right now, because we’ve played 16 matches, it’s just another game to them,” Mueller said. “I don’t think they realize actually what it means. You try to explain to them, but until you get into it and been through it, I think it’s very difficult for them to understand.”

I don’t think that they’re nervous. I think this is just another opponent to them.”

The freshmen do not seem nervous heading into C-USA play, but they are anxious to prove that USF’s 6-10 record is a thing of the past and that the team will continue its winning tradition in the conference.

“There is going to be good competition, and we are all very excited to start conference play,” Reavis said. “We are going to play our game on our side and get what we need to do get done, and not really focus on who’s on the other side.”

“I’m not nervous,” Williams said. “I’m really actually excited because it’s my first time playing university volleyball.”

Mueller said the Bulls will need to continue their improvement, on both the defensive and offensive ends, in order to be successful in their 2003 C-USA debut at Charlotte on Friday and East Carolina on Saturday.

“I think two categories we are doing fairly poorly in C-USA are: defense and kills per game,” Mueller said. “We need to kill more balls. Twelve or 13 (per game) aren’t going to cut it in this league. We’re going to need to be killing at least a minimum of 15 balls, and what’s going to help that is being able to terminate off the first dig or the first pass.”