The USF volleyball team started slow and had to fend off a late rally before beating in-state foe North Florida 3-2 on the road Wednesday.
“We started very slow tonight,” coach Clarie Lessinger said. “We weren’t very crisp, and we didn’t follow our defensive game plan.”
After dropping the first game 36-34, the Bulls (8-10, 3-2) took a 2-1 lead after dominating Games 2 and 3. The Ospreys (10-13,1-1) battled back in Game 4 to win 30-25.
USF took an early lead with a 9-2 run before finishing of the Ospreys 15-10 in the last game.
Redshirt freshman Marcela Gurgel led the way on offense with a team-high 25 kills, while senior Juliana Nogueira added 57 of the team’s 66 assists. Sophomore Nakia Williams anchored the defense with 10 block assists.
“I give credit to North Florida for battling back,” Lessinger said. “We were so dominant in Games 2 and 3 that I think we backed off in Game 4, and (we) can’t do that. (UNF) had nothing to lose in that position – that’s when a team can be most dangerous.”
The Bulls finish their longest road trip of the season Saturday when they face Georgetown, which is winless in the Big East this season. USF then returns home for a weekend series with Villanova and Rutgers on Oct. 20 and 22, respectively. The team has hit a stride, winning four of its last six matches.
With the Big East Tournament a little more than a month away, Lessinger said she felt confident about the team’s chances with the remainder of the schedule.
“With the talent that we have on this team this year, I have a lot of confidence when it comes to the rest of the season,” Lessinger said. “If we can take the talent that we have and transfer it to the court every night, we can win a lot of games. We have to out work all of our opponents in order to get the win, but with our ability to play, we can at least challenge every opponent.”