The USF volleyball team has taken advantage of home games this season, helping to stay in the hunt in Conference USA. The Bulls split a pair of home matches this weekend, beating C-USA foe UAB 3-0 and losing to out-of-conference No. 25 FAMU 3-1.
After starting out the season 2-8, the Bulls have won four of their last seven matches to improve to 6-13 on the season. More importantly, USF won three of its past seven matches against conference foes.
In the first game of the weekend, USF dispatched UAB, easily winning 3-0. The win extended their season-long winning streak to three games.
The Bulls took advantage of the Blazers in every phase of the game. They piled up eight team blocks and 49 digs in a solid defensive effort.
“I was proud of our focus in our defensive side of the game and I think that helped us have a very successful offensive side of the game,” USF coach Claire Lessinger said.
USF played its most complete game of the season against the Blazers, not only dominating on defense, but also with a stinging offense. Junior Flavia Silveira continued to show why she ranks near the top of the conference in kills, scoring 19 kills and 13 digs to lead the Bulls.
“Friday, our entire team came out with fire and intensity. We would have been very tough to beat for anyone,” Silveira said.
Saturday, USF played No. 25 Florida A&M, losing 3-1. FAMU came into the match having won 15 straight matches.
The Rattlers stormed out of the gate early, winning the first two matches 30-22 and 30-19. In game three of the match, USF fired back, catching the Rattlers by surprise to win the game 31-29.
“I think game three was a direct reflection of us following our game plan (and) our goals to create an environment that we feed off of — that high emotion and high intensity and getting our crowd involved,” Lessinger said. “I knew that would generate a positive outcome for us against a team like this.
“I really want them to feed off game three, the way we played and how consistent we were and our ability to play with a nationally ranked opponent,” Lessinger said. “That will help us going into this week of conference play and show us what we’re capable of doing.”
Freshman Michelle Staulbaum, who had 14 kills and 11 digs against FAMU, said she thinks the Bulls are going in the right direction.
“Everyone knows how we can play when we fire on six cylinders,” Staulbaum said. “FAMU was really disciplined and we had to work hard for all our points. If we play like I know we can play, we can keep up with anybody.”