USF endures growing pains

In the sporting world, there is no such thing as an off-season. Despite a losing record on the road, USF will look to regroup in the off-season and add more depth in all positions through recruiting. USF returns all its players, but had only nine on the roster this season. The Bulls finished 9-20 in coach Claire Lessinger’s first campaign as head coach.

The Bulls will have to improve their play on the road in order to be successful next season.

USF managed to stay in contention during many road games this season, but couldn’t find a way to finish, posting only two road wins. Playing in the Corral was a different story. The Bulls collected a 7-4 record at home, including a five-game upset of conference foe Memphis.

“Early in the year fatigue was an issue, but as the year grinds on you get used to it,” Lessinger said.

Despite being ousted in the first round, USF had plenty to be happy about. Freshman Kristina Fabris garnered Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors after finishing third on the team averaging 3.06 kills a game and .71 blocks a game. Junior Flavia Silveira led the team in kills per game with 4.23, which ranked third in C-USA.

“We set realistic goals at the beginning of the season and I think we were able to accomplish most of those goals,” Lessinger said. “I’m looking forward to the future.”

Next year will be the Bulls’ inaugural season in the Big East. Traveling through the conference will be a daunting task, considering two of the current Big East teams — Notre Dame and Pittsburgh — received bids to the NCAA Tournament this year. Only three teams in the Big East ended their seasons with losing records, as opposed to C-USA, in which seven teams posted losing seasons.

“We’re thrilled to be going to the Big East,” Lessinger said. “The experience we gained this season will speak volumes.”

Joining USF in the Big East is C-USA champion Louisville, C-USA runner-up Marquette, DePaul and Cincinnati.

The Bulls will stay busy in the off season, taking part in a Christmas charity event with other USF athletic teams. After the semester ends the Bulls will begin their strength and conditioning program in January in preparation for the upcoming season.

“We train during the week for about four hours,” junior Kelsi Andrew-Wasylik said. “We’re excited to go to the Big East and compete against some great programs.”