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Bulls spike Knights

The Bulls swept their match with Central Florida 3-0 on Thursday night. USF has won six straight contests and its 6-1 record ranks fourth in the Big East. ORACLE PHOTO/JOE ROBERTS

In front of an energized crowd at the Sun Dome, the volleyball team extended its winning streak Thursday to six games by defeating an in-state rival.

The Bulls shut out the University of Central Florida 3-0 in the first game of the USF Best Western Invitational.

“For a home opener – and to have a crowd like this – is a key start to the season,” coach Claire Lessinger said. “I hope we put up a big enough show for everyone to return because it’s amazing to have a home crowd like that and I know it gave us a lift tonight.”

In front of a crowd of 602, USF was able to continue its

winning ways. Lessinger hopes the

attendance figures can go even higher as the season progresses.

“I’ve been here eight years and we haven’t had a home-opening crowd like that before,” Lessinger said. “There’s a buzz about

volleyball going around campus right now and that excites us. It gives us that extra energy every day to work harder.”

The team (6-1) struggled at the start of the first match, falling behind UCF 7-3. The Bulls stormed back and held a slim lead before scoring five consecutive points to put the game just out of reach.

The Golden Knights brought the match to within three but could not get any closer as sophomore Marcela Gurgel served two straight aces en route to a 30-21 win.

The frenzied atmosphere in the Corral helped the Bulls seize control of the match.

“It was amazing to play with this crowd,” Gurgel said. “We had fun playing and it was very good. It feels so good to have all those fans wtih us and showing support.”

The second match was closer as both teams fought back and forth to tie the contest at 16. USF then began another 5-0 run to take control. The Knights fought their way back to come within one point at 25-24 but could not overcome USF and fell 30-25.

Starting out much like the first match, the Bulls faltered at the start of the final match. A 10-3 run by the Bulls gave them an 18-12 lead. It looked as if the Bulls were going to run away, but UCF rallied back to make the score 27-26. That would be as close as the Knights would get as the Bulls finished the sweep with a 30-26 score.

“We’ve studied our

opponent really well,” Gurgel said. “We have a game plan … hard work and discipline had really paid off.”

The Bulls held UCF to a .043 hit percentage in the win. Gurgel led the Bulls with 11 kills and four service aces. Mariana Thon led the team with 12 assists.

Senior Kristina Fabris was awarded with a golden

volleyball before the first match to signify her entry into USF record books.

Fabris became the 10th

player in team history to record 1,000 kills. She also led the Bulls with 13 digs against UCF.

The Bulls’ USF Best Western Invitational schedule continues tonight at 7 against Texas A & M-Corpus Christi and Saturday at 5 p.m. against George Mason.