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Volleyball ready for in-state showdown

USF coach Claire Lessinger knows what kind of environment the Bulls head into tonight when they face UCF.

“This is an intensive rivalry, as it’s been built over the years, and I know we’re kind of a highlighted match on UCF’s schedule,” she said. “It’s going to be fun.”

The Bulls, who play the Knights at 7 p.m. in Orlando, lost two matches last weekend to top-ranked opponents: No. 4 Florida and No. 8 Minnesota in the Tampa Twice Tournament at the USF Sun Dome.

“Our two losses are to two top-10 teams and that’s not too shabby,” she said.

UCF enters the match 8-2 after a successful road trip in North Carolina, where the Knights defeated High Point and UNC Greensboro.

UCF’s home court is similar to USF’s Sun Dome Corral. The Venue is a 2,000 seat, mini-arena that is expected to be at capacity for “VolleyBowl II.”

USF heads into this match with injury concerns. Seniors Pamela Luiz (shoulder) and Alli Arbogast (elbow) were injured during the Tampa Twice Tournament. Arbogast’s time was split by sophomore Kelsey Palmer and redshirt freshman Caitlyn Breen. Luiz finished the match against Minnesota.

Regardless of who suits up for USF, Lessinger expects a challenge. The Bulls defeated the Knights in straight sets back in 2007, the last time the two teams met.

“They’re a much better team than they were even a year ago,” she said. “And the rivalry speaks for itself, if you start lining us up player-for-player, talent-for-talent, you can throw all of that out when you get USF vs. UCF on the court. I’m expecting a big battle.”