USF volleyball coach Claire Lessinger said her team had nervous energy this week leading up to the Bulls’ opening weekend.
It turns out those nerves weren’t a problem.
USF defeated Miami in four sets behind 19 kills from Marcela Gurgel, who moved into third place on USF’s all-time kills list, to win the Hurricane Invitational this weekend.
The Bulls (3-0) defeated the Hurricanes 25-18, 26-24, 18-25 and 25-22 on Saturday. USF swept Prairie View A&M in three sets Friday and outlasted Florida Gulf Coast in four sets Saturday morning.
“We were able to execute our game plan this entire weekend,” Lessinger said. “That’s something we haven’t done well in past years. They did what worked in game one and stuck to it. We had to make adjustments in each game. They fought hard.”
Gurgel, the Big East Preseason Player of the Year, had 40 total kills this weekend.
Transfer Pamela Luiz and Jarka Havlickova each had 10 kills against Miami to go along with Gurgel’s 19. Mariana Thon had 25 assists and Brittany Castelamare added 22. USF held the advantage in every statistical category against Miami.
“We passed the ball well and communicated well,” Gurgel said. “It was a total team effort.”
The win over the Hurricanes, who finished 26-6 last season, is the first USF victory over a Top-50 team on the road under Lessinger.
“They’re a solid team,” Lessinger said. “They’ll go far this year. They’ll be a postseason team.”
After winning the first two sets against Miami, USF dropped the third and fell behind 4-1 in the fourth. The Bulls used a 5-0 spurt to gain control of the set.
USF started 3-0 last season. This weekend was more than just three wins, Gurgel said.
“It helps in the long run,” she said. “Now we know we can win every game we play. It gives us tremendous confidence.”
Lessinger praised her team’s chemistry.
“I saw a mature team out there,” Lessinger said. “They showed their talent and experience. They look like a team that has played this sport a long time. They played very in sync.”
The Bulls host Winthrop and Florida Atlantic Sept. 4 and Sept. 5 in the Best Western Invitational.