Volleyball loses in first round

The USF volleyball team’s season ended Friday during the first round of the 2003 Conference-USA Tournament, with a 3-2 loss to Houston.

The Bulls fell behind early, losing two close games.

“We started out sluggish, and then we were able to start putting some things together in Games 3 and 4,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said.

USF failed to take charge and finish the first two games, with Game 1 going to a 30-all tie before the Cougars finished it, as well as Game 2 going to a 28-28 tie prior to Houston’s 30-28 victory.

“That’s been the story of our team this year,” Mueller said. “I think we didn’t have people that wanted to step up and take the ball. We were a little apprehensive.”

The Bulls’ playing was also a little flat because of the layover from a 3-1 victory against C-USA No. 1 ranked Cincinnati.

“We didn’t have a great week of practice,” Mueller said before the Bulls’ match up against Houston. “I think that we were a little bit distracted coming off the big win.”

Of the first two games, Mueller said the lack of quality practice was responsible for the Bulls’ slow start.

“In the beginning of the match I think it did, but in Games 3 and 4 we were back to being the team that we were in the games against Cincinnati and Louisville.”

Even though the Bulls lost Games 1 and 2 they had a chance until the end, providing hope for a strong finish.

“We put up a fight in Games 1 and 2,” Mueller said. “We didn’t play well, and we were right in it. So, we had confidence in Games 3 and 4.”

In Game 3, USF was again tied at 28, but they pulled out the victory winning 30-28 behind junior Shameka Mitchell’s seven kills.

“I’m proud of the team,” Mueller said. “We could have lost in Game 3, but we put up a fight. That’s a heck of a way to end the season.”

After winning Game 4 30-25, the biggest margin of victory in the match so far, USF went back to its sluggish ways going down 5-1 in the opening moments of Game 5.

“We struggled to stop their outside hitters,” Mueller said. “It’s disappointing to end your season on a first-round loss in the conference tournament.”

The Bulls had a zero hitting percentage in Game 5 and committed seven errors in the first-to-15-points contest.

“In Game 5, we had too many errors, and they only had to score six points on their own,” Mueller said. “We put up a fight, but in the end we just put up too many errors to win.”

USF ended its season posting a disappointing 12-20 overall record and 6-7 in C-USA play, never reaching the potential that had the Bulls pegged in the preseason for a No. 3 C-USA finish.

“That’s why it’s disappointing,” Mueller said. “I don’t think we achieved our true potential. We just couldn’t fulfill what we needed to.”