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USF (0-0-0) vs. Prairie View A&M (0-0-0)

When: Friday, 3 p.m.

Where: Miami, FL
TV/Radio: N/A

“Nervous excitement” is a term that USF volleyball coach Claire Lessinger used Wednesday to describe her team’s thought process as the Bulls open their season this weekend at the Hurricane Invitational in Miami.

USF will play Prairie View A&M on Friday at 3 p.m. and against Florida Gulf Coast and Miami on Saturday.

“Work those nerves out – get those jitters out,” Lessinger said. “There’s excitement, intensity and anxiety to just get out there.”

Lessinger said she doesn’t know what to expect this weekend.

“We don’t know much about these teams except for how they finished last year, so that’s always a little challenging from a coach’s perspective – to go into a weekend not knowing much,” she said. “We’re focusing on ourselves and the things we’ve done well in practice. We’ll make adjustments as they come at us. They’re three good teams.”

Miami and Florida Gulf Coast had a 46-14 combined record last year.

“We want to have a good out-of-conference schedule this year,” Lessinger said. “We want to play good teams. The strategy is to schedule teams that are going to help our RPI if we get (wins).”

USF returns the Big East preseason Player of the Year Marcela Gurgel, along with nine other upperclassman players. The Bulls also added a top international outside hitter, Maija Strazdina, who was named the best player in the 2009 Latvia Junior Championships.

Strazdina won’t play this weekend, however, as she has to attend class on Thursday and Friday, Lessinger said.

USF plays Florida Gulf Coast at 10 a.m. and Miami at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

-Phil Neary