Despite two losses this weekend, USF coach Claire Lessinger considered the Tampa Twice Tournament a success. A total of 5,121 fans came to watch elite teams face off in the Sun Dome during the two-night event.
The unranked Bulls gave Florida a test in front of 3,056 fans Friday night but fell 3-1, while USF also lost in straight sets to Minnesota this weekend.
The Gators and Bulls entered the match 5-0. USF struggled early, losing the first set 25-13. USF fell behind 2-0 in the second set but used an 8-3 run to take 10-5 lead en route to a second-set win.
“(The fans) gathered behind us and gave us tons of support,” Lessinger said. “I liked where we were during the break, because we were right in there with such a talented and experienced team. We just had to stay patient like we did in the second set and force UF to make errors.”
USF carried the momentum to the third set, jumping out to 10-5 lead. The Gators, however, used an 11-1 run to eventually win the third set, 25-23.
“We went on an emotional rollercoaster in the third set and when we didn’t get it, we went in an emotional downward spiral into the fourth set,” Lessinger said. “That just can’t happen.”
The emotionally shattered Bulls lost the fourth set 25-10. Despite USF’s straight set loss to Minnesota on Saturday night, Lessinger said she hopes it will be a learning experience for USF.
“We competed so well (Friday) that our expectations got too high and we just lost the focus of playing for each other as a team,” Lessinger said. “Only playing teams of this quality could’ve exposed the weaknesses this team has. Now we have a longer list of things to work on as the season moves along, and that’s a good thing. (The tournament) was a huge success. The feedback from the players and coaches was overwhelmingly positive.”