Offense comes alive in win

Thanks to an a consistent offensive effort, the USF volleyball team beat FIU and matched its longest winning streak of the season at two matches.

The Bulls hadn’t won back-to-back games since defeating Southeast Missouri State and UT-Chattanooga in September.

The Bulls faced off against FIU in a rare non-conference home match amid conference play.

“Playing these midweek non-conference matches helps us focus on things we work on in practice so we can improve for our Conference USA matches,” USF coach Claire Lessinger said.

After losing the first game, USF switched its plan in game two and found a formula that would to carry the team through the rest of the match.

The Bulls leaned toward shots with more finesse and better ball placement. In USF’s scouting of FIU, it was able to exploit some of the weaker spots on the floor by tipping the ball in the center.

“We came out and tipped off speed shot for points and it really adjusted (FIU) play at the net,” Lessinger said.

The adjustment worked, as the Bulls jumped out an early lead thanks to strong play and ball placement from setter Juliana Nogueira.

“(Juliana) ran the floor with confidence. She ran a couple new plays that we installed and really kept all our players on the same page with the offense,” Lessinger said.

With the offense in sync, USF swept the final three matches to finish off FIU.

The Golden Panthers stayed in the match, but the Bulls defense was too dominant.

The Bulls turned the tables on FIU, blocking a season-high nine shots.

“We understand we’re not the biggest blocking team out there, but we’re trying to be disciplined,” Lessinger said. “The theory is working. We’ve been more disciplined and we’re blocking more shots.”

When FIU got the ball over the net, USF responded to keep the play alive. USF had 20 more digs than FIU, tallying 58 on the match. Three Bulls reached double digit in digs.

USF racked up 70 kills, a team high for a four-game match.

Junior Flavia Silveira led the Bulls with 20 kills and 15 digs. Silveira has been the backbone of the Bulls’ offense this season, averaging 4.34 kills a game, third overall in C-USA.

The Bulls faced hard times in the match only once, when they lost game one 30-27. It looked like USF had the Golden Panthers’ number early on, jumping out to an early lead.

FIU slowly climbed back into the game after forcing 11 errors while only committing three. FIU was successful in game one due to its strong play at the net.

The Golden Panthers had an answer for every shot the Bulls took.

FIU notched seven blocks in the first game alone.

“They blocked our outsides really well,” Lessinger said.