Volleyball splits weekend matches

USF volleyball had a slow start this weekend but bounced back to win one of two matches during the first weekend of Big East Conference play.

On Friday night, a large home crowd saw the Bulls lose to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a hard-fought, four-set match. Junior outside hitter Marcela Gurgel led the Bulls with 19 kills and 11 digs. The loss to Notre Dame was the Bulls’ first home loss of the season.   

“I thought we showed a lot of emotion out there,” coach Claire Lessinger said. “We executed pretty well, but it was their big stretches that hurt us pretty bad. Hats off to Notre Dame for running a game plan and executing it.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Bulls bounced back to beat the DePaul Blue Demons in four sets by a score of 23-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-23. The win improved the Bulls to 10-6, and 1-1 in conference play. 

Sunday’s win was the first time this season that the Bulls won a match after losing the first set. Lessinger said she was very pleased with how the team responded.

“I think the first set was a wake-up call, but I think we needed that,” Lessinger said.  “After that, I thought we turned it on pretty good and executed our game plan of running our outsides and right sides.”

Gurgel also led this match, making 20 kills, 16 digs and four aces. Freshman outside hitter Alli O’Connor also had a big day with 14 kills and two aces.

“It was an awesome win here today,” O’Connor said. “We played with great energy. Everybody really stepped up and did their part.”

The Bulls will now turn their attention to this weekend’s matches when they travel to play Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

“We want to go on the road and bring the same amount of energy that we have here,” Gurgel said. “We will work this week to get prepared both mentally and physically.”