South Florida rises again

The wins came in three full circles.

Throughout a struggling season, the volleyball team (4-22, 1-13 Big East) managed to win its final game of the season at The Corral on Wednesday, beating North Florida (19-10, 7-2 Atlantic Sun) 3-0.

It was the first win for the Bulls since their 3-2 victory against Jacksonville on Oct. 16 and their first win at home since Sept. 16 against UCF.

Coincidentally, Wednesday was Nov. 16, meaning three of the Bulls’ four wins have all come on the 16th of the month.

“Well, I wish there were more 16ths of the month; that’s ironic. I actually didn’t know that. Maybe that’s our lucky number,” coach Claire Lessinger said. “Obviously it’s something that’s weird, and if we can pick our wins, we would have picked a lot more.”

The team felt it was more consistent throughout the game.

“Our team was just efficient in every aspect of the game. Our passing was on. The sets were there along with the hitting,” freshman setter Kate Verhoff said.

Verhoff and the Bulls offense proved to be too much for the Ospreys, as they out-hit North Florida .255 to .190. Offensive powerhouse Michelle Stalbaum led the Bulls with 16 kills and 29 total attacks offensively with Kristina Fabris trailing close behind with nine kills and 25 total offensive attacks.

Defensively, USF also proved to be victorious. The Bulls recorded a total of 40 digs while the Ospreys managed only 29.

Two of the Bulls’ four wins have come over teams from the A-Sun Conference, but the team’s only Big East win came over Georgetown (6-22, 2-12 Big East) 3-0 on Oct. 15. Wednesday’s game was only the second sweep accomplished by the Bulls this season, but they also held the lead for the entirety of Game 3, which the Bulls won 30-23.

The win brought the team’s spirits up after a disheartening season.

“This win capped our season off on a good note – our determination of wanting to win for the seniors and wanting to end the season on a good note helped us to win,” sophomore Kristina Fabris said. “We are a young team and have developed so much skill-wise, emotionally and psychologically, and this win is only going to help us in the long run.”

Lessinger felt her players were unselfish even after the many hardships this season.

“I think for our morale it was key, and we talked about this during the week and focusing on each individual’s effort,” Lessinger said. “There was a lot of togetherness tonight, and that was a great way for us to end some of the adversity and challenges we’ve been through this season.”

The Bulls plan to use the adversity and challenges they’ve faced this season as a stepping-stone for next season.

“This win is a building block for next year,” Verhoff said. “Our team has overcome so much this season, and I think this will only make us stronger for next season.”