The Bulls’ dominating performance during the Wright State Raider Challenge has led the volleyball team to its best start since its 7-0 opener in 2000.
USF captured three straight victories, improving its record to 5-1 on the season. After falling to Buffalo in the season opener, the Bulls have won five straight contests.
“I was really pleased with the production we received from a lot of players,” coach Claire Lessinger said. “Our depth is really our biggest strength right now, and I’m glad that our players have been able to understand their roles and respond to certain situations.”
The trio of Marcela Gurgel, Kristina Fabris and Stephanie Augustavo earned all-tournament honors for the Bulls, and Gurgel was named the tournament’s most valuable player with 55 kills, 40 digs and nine aces.
The production from Gurgel was nothing new, but the sophomore outside hitter leads the team in kills and service aces this year, repeating her leading role in those same categories last season.
“I know that I had a good weekend but that was because the whole team was able to play well,” Gurgel said. “We have a really talented team and they were able to set me up for a lot of plays.”
When the Bulls defeated Wright State in the tournament’s finale, both Gurgel and Fabris recorded double-doubles and Augustavo led USF with 21 digs.
The production from a wide variety of players has been what Lessinger hoped for entering the year.
With USF’s depth, Lessinger has been able to change lineups from game to game and make adjustments during a match if an advantage becomes exposed.
“We’re definitely not a one-man show, and that makes us a lot more difficult to scout,” Lessinger said. “Marcela and Kristina are our go-to players when we need production in crunch time, but we’re getting quality play from everyone on the court right now.”
USF also earned a victory over the Citadel. Gurgel led the team with 16 kills and didn’t commit an attacking error throughout the match.
“We know Marcela is a great player and entering this season we were just looking for her to be more consistent,” Lessinger said. “So far this year she’s been just that, and I expect her to continue to improve as the season goes along.”
The team depth came together during the tournament opener when sophomore Alli Arbogast set personal records with 10 kills, 12.5 points and a .450 hitting percentage.
The Bulls’ potent attack from anywhere on the court has the team confident as they prepare for the home opener against Central Florida Thursday.
“With all of the depth on our team, we’re pretty dangerous,” Gurgel said. “I think that as we build team chemistry and the season goes along, we’ll continue to improve and be tougher to beat.”