Volleyball hopes to dig for a cure

The volleyball team is hoping to eliminate more than errors this month.

For the fourth year in a row, the Bulls are hosting the “Dig for the Cure” campaign – which raises money toward finding a cure for breast cancer – Oct. 23 against North Florida.

The Bulls have been associated with this campaign since they were in Conference USA. Former UNC Charlotte volleyball coach Lisa Marston started it four years ago after her mother survived breast cancer.

Over the last three years, Marston’s team, along with a great number of schools across the country, has raised more than $36,000 for the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation. This foundation was started in 1982 and has raised more than $740 million for the fight against breast cancer.

“This program has expanded to all conferences and all volleyball programs throughout the country,” coach Claire Lessinger said. “We are proud to say that we have been involved since the ground level. It’s a great opportunity to help a great cause, and it lets us represent the volleyball community as well.”

To help promote awareness, some players stand outside Publix stores and other local venues, distributing information about their team and their campaign.

“We tried to promote the awareness as best we could,” junior Stephanie Augustavo said. “We tried to get people to pledge on the spot, or give them enough information so that they could potentially contribute to the cause.”?

The Bulls prepare for games by watching film on their opponents and practicing hard to become the best competitors they can.

This campaign gives the women an opportunity to do the same, but with more of an incentive. It provides this team a chance to make a real difference in the world by playing a game that they love.

That extra effort could be the difference between a win and a loss, but this may be the one game of the season where it isn’t about winning and losing.

“I think that drive is there,” Lessinger said. “There is definitely a correlation each year between the specified match and the amount of digs we tend to get. I think it helps put the game into perspective. It gives us that extra push to keep that ball off the ground for more than the sake of winning the match.”

The “Dig for the Cure” match last season was successful in both fundraising and the overall outcome of the game. The Bulls beat Rutgers 3-1 and tallied their third-highest dig total of the season with 84.

Augustavo posted a season-high 29 digs in the effort.

“Every game I try to go out there and play as hard as I can,” senior middle blocker Kristina Fabris said. “But at the end of this game you feel a sense of accomplishment that you did something for a great cause like breast cancer.”

Each school that participates designates one game during October to be their fundraising match. Prior to the highlighted match on Oct. 23, individuals who would like to pledge money can do so on www.usfvolleyball.com/community/cure.php or at a home volleyball match. Sponsors may decide to pledge a dollar increment for each dig USF totals throughout the game or give a flat payment to the foundation. USF has raised more than $8,500 since joining this effort.

“The special thing about this program is that it’s not just USF out there helping out,” said Lessinger. “We like being able to have a significant impact on the community, and if we can get 100 percent involvement across the board, we can really make a large difference in this world.”