Volleyball falls in Big East quarterfinals

Two wins helped bring the South Florida volleyball team to the Big East tournament, but the Bulls couldn’t muster another “W” during the quarterfinals game against St. John’s Red Storm.

USF (17-13) fell to St. John’s (26-5) in straight sets Friday afternoon in Pittsburgh. 

“Despite the loss, I am so proud of this team,” Coach Claire Lessinger said. “We played right with them throughout the entire match, but we weren’t able to go on any runs. Give credit to St. John’s, because they’re a great team that makes few mistakes.”

Sophomore outside hitter Allie Boaz led the Bulls with 10 kills. Junior outside hitter Marcela Gurgel added eight kills and eight digs despite being triple-teamed by Red Storm defenders. Both girls said they were disappointed with the result but pleased with the team’s performance.

“We played right with them the whole game,” Gurgel said. “St. John’s was able to go on runs at the end of games to close us out. They’re a really good team, but I’m proud of what we were able to do in this match.”

Boaz said the Bulls couldn’t score points when they needed to.

“It was a good team effort,” she said. “Our passing and blocking was good today, but we came up just a little bit short.”

The Bulls close their season with a non-conference matchup against the Florida International Panthers on Wednesday afternoon. Though the season ended on a bad note, the Bulls are excited about next season’s potential.

“We have to go into the offseason with a lot of fire,” Lessinger said. “This year we didn’t meet our expectations. We want to win Big East titles, and what we need to do is get in shape and build on the positives from this season.”

Gurgel and Boaz said they believe they can make a run at the Big East title next season. They acknowledged, however, that it won’t come easy.

“There is a lot to work on,” Gurgel said. “I think we need to improve individually and as a team, but I think we’ll be a good team next year.”

Boaz said USF needs to strengthen the things that don’t show up on a stat sheet.

“We want to work on improving our team chemistry,” she said. “We’re going to have more leaders next year by having five seniors.”