USF volleyball team goes winless in weekend tourney

For the first five matches of the season, Junior Flavia Silveira led that USF Volleyball team in offensive statistics. This weekend, freshman Kristina Fabris stepped up her game to garnish all-tournament honors at the Northern Iowa Tournament.

Fabris averaged 3.09 kills per match and tallied 40 points. Despite her strong performance, USF had one rough weekend. USF (2-6) returns from Cedar Falls after dropping all three matches. Playing in their eighth consecutive road match, the Bulls found themselves falling behind early. The Bulls showed resilience as they fought their way back into each match.

USF’s offense struggled in the first match against Northern Illinois, in which the Huskies had 13 more kills and 16 less errors than the Bulls. The Bulls managed to extend the match to four games, but lost a close fourth game 30-25.

The match against Bradley was much closer. Again, USF took the match to four games but fell 3-1. Michelle Stalbaum picked up her third double-double of the season. Against the Braves, some new faces created some big plays for the Bulls. Freshman Shardae Thorne came up huge defensively for the Bulls, racking up 16 digs in her first significant playing time this season.

“Shardae stepped up early on in the game and gave me discipline and consistency, something we’ve been lacking, and earned a spot on the floor. We felt she should be in for more than just three rotations, so we put her in the libero spot after the second game,” Coach Claire Lessinger said. “She led our team with 16 digs, and it’s nice to know that we have people, we have depth, that are ready to step in and give our team a different look.”

Also adding a spark for the Bulls was freshman Rachel Reichert, who contributed with four kills and only one error. Added Lessinger: “In terms of Rachel, we realized that we needed to definitely get her involved offensively, and I think she stepped up and made big plays at big times. What that’s going to do is allow us to have more diversity in our offense, more weapons.”

Lessinger asked for her team to come together and boost the intensity, and her players answered the call. “I challenged them all to come out today after last night’s loss and take more pride individually in their role and their responsibility and give back more to the team,” Lessinger said. “The stats show that each person stepped up their game and improved what they needed to improve to give us a better team performance.”

Against Northern Iowa, USF faced a team that had won 73 consecutive home matches.

The Panthers had been ranked earlier in this season, and their experience showed against USF. Northern Iowa led in all five statistical categories. USF tried to keep each match close before the Panthers pulled away for good. Silveira and sophomore Johari Williams led the Bulls with nine kills apiece. USF hopes to end their five-game slide Wednesday against Florida Atlantic.