‘Painful’ loss ends weekend

After another five-set loss, USF volleyball coach Claire Lessinger was left wondering.

The Bulls (10-5, 3-2), now 0-3 in five-set matches this season, fell in a close, hard-fought match to Pittsburgh (13-7, 5-1) on Sunday (25-21, 22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 9-15) at the Sun Dome Corral.

“That’s painful. It doesn’t make much sense to me and we’ll keep revisiting that as a team,” Lessinger said. “We’ve got six seniors on the team – five on the floor – so there’s no reason we shouldn’t be stepping up to the plate in pressure situations better. We’ve got to come out of the gates stronger in that fifth game.”

After sweeping West Virginia (12-9, 2-4) Friday, USF’s defense continued to impress Sunday, holding Pittsburgh’s offense to a .140 hitting percentage.

However, USF struggled with serving and blocking, as the Panthers out-blocked USF 18-13. Pitt had seven service aces, while the Bulls couldn’t procure any and had five service errors.

The Bulls jumped out winning the first set but allowed Pittsburgh to come back because of mental mistakes, Lessinger said.

“As a coach, as a spectator, you can’t understand how those silly mistakes happen,” she said. “Rallies are a maximum of about 7 seconds long, and you would think we would be able to lock in for 7 seconds at a time. The set-ups here and there, individuals just kind of tuning in and out is unacceptable. These are issues that are just going to have to continue to be addressed.”

The Bulls were dressed in pink for the annual “Dig Pink” fundraising event, and USF defeated West Virginia 25-15, 25-19 and 25-21.

The Bulls were strong on offense, hitting .390 with 48 kills and nine errors, while the Big East’s No. 1 defense held WVU to .190 hitting.

The Bulls were led by a duo of seniors: Alli Arbogast, and Big East preseason player of the year Marcela Gurgel. Gurgel had a match-high 12 kills and also contributed nine digs on Friday, while Arbogast hit at a .833 percentage with 10 kills and no errors. She also pitched in six blocks and a service ace.

Despite still struggling with an elbow injury suffered a few weeks ago, Arbogast didn’t show it on the court.

“She hides (the pain) really well,” Lessinger said. “She’s a focused senior – she knows what she wants out of this year and plays like it night in and night out.”