Trying to end a sour season sweetly

Before the 2003 season began, the USF volleyball team was the defending Conference USA Champion, predicted to finish No. 3 and eyeing another regular season championship.

After a 10-15 (4-4 in C-USA) regular season with five matches left, the Bulls just want to end on a positive note.

“Our goals at the beginning of the year are a little more lofty in that we thought that we could at least challenge and compete for the regular season championship,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said. “We want to have a positive experience.”

After being plagued by inconsistencies much of the season, such as setting a school record of 48 block assists then following it up one match later with a four block assists performance, the Bulls want the regular season to end with everyone on the same page.

“We want to end the season on a good note, meaning everything’s clicking and consistency is happening,” Mueller said. “Every team in this country loses their last match except for one, so that is the inevitable.”

The Bulls will start to wind down the season Saturday against UAB, with only three weeks left, and begin to play for position in the C-USA Tournament.

“It is on our mind a little bit,” Mueller said. “We try not too think about it too much. We need to be successful and try to position ourselves to do the best that we can in order to succeed at the conference tournament.

“We would like to go in there with a good seed.”

USF is currently ranked No. 7 in C-USA, with 12 of the 14 teams qualifying for the tournament.

“There’s a good chance we’re going to make it. That’s not a doubt in my mind,” Mueller said. “We need to win matches to get a good position and a good seeding in the conference tournament.”

USF will start its push for a better seeding against the Blazers (11-14, 4-4), a team that has an identical conference record and is one spot higher in the conference.

The Bulls will try to shake things up Saturday by playing senior Jenny Scholle, who has been used mainly as a libero and defensive specialist, on the front row.

“The only change we’re making is Jenny is going to see a little more of the front row,” Mueller said. “Other than that, not too many changes. We made some changes (Wednesday against FSU) that we liked in the middle of the game, and we’ll see what happens.”

Scholle was listed as an outside hitter throughout her previous years at USF, and is only getting the chance now, during the 2003 season to see playing time there.

“(Nicollette Barron) was doing an OK job, and Jenny wasn’t in a good enough condition to do both. Now I think she is, and I think she’ll be a good positive factor for us,” Mueller said. “There’s not a lot you can substitute for experience. I think Jenny being in the front row will help us out.”