Volleyball hosts top competition

USF senior Pamela Luiz suited up every match for the Minnesota Golden Gophers last season. Saturday night, she’ll see the same uniform from across the net.

Luiz, who transferred to USF last year after one season with Minnesota, recorded 173 kills and 193 digs last year, helping the Golden Gophers to a 27-7 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“It’ll be a weird feeling seeing them again on the other side of the net,” she said.

Minnesota is one of three teams coming to the Sun Dome Corral this weekend for the Tampa Twice Tournament, which is aimed to target volleyball in the bay area, as the NCAA National Championships will be held at the St. Pete Times Forum in December.

USF will play No. 4 Florida on Friday at 8 p.m. and No. 9 Minnesota on Saturday at 8 p.m. The University of Washington is also in the tournament.

USF is 5-0 to start the season, including a victory over Miami on Aug. 29. Luiz said she’s looking forward to playing some top competition, though.

“I’m not nervous, just really excited to face former teammates,” she said.

Along with the high-profile tournament, there will be a coaches’ clinic for local kids, featuring players and coaches from all four teams, as well as a high school showcase match.

“There has been a lot of hype around campus for this event, and the student ticket marketing office has really pushed this tournament,” said USF coach Claire Lessinger. “Hopefully the atmosphere will be great … (The fans will) definitely be here to see these premier teams.”

USF won the Best Western Invitational last weekend a week after sweeping through the Hurricane Invitational to open the season.

“We had a good feeling about this team coming out of preseason camps, and so far we’ve worked really well together” Lessinger said.

However, the Bulls have arguably their toughest task of the year ahead, and Lessinger said it will be a good test for the team.

“It will serve as a good measuring stick for the status of our program,” Lessinger said.