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USF extends win streak

All the USF volleyball team has done in the last few weeks is win, and Friday night was no different.

Momentum stayed on the Bulls’ (15-6, 7-3) side as they cruised to a straight-sets victory over the Villanova Wildcats (16-8, 5-4) in Pennsylvania, extending their winning steak to five matches.

“If you were in the gym watching, it wouldn’t have felt like we blew them out like the score might suggest,” said coach Claire Lessinger, whose team has also won its last two in straight sets. “It was an exciting match, a tense match with a lot of long rallies.”

Senior Big East Preseason Player of the Year Marcela Gurgel returned to the team after she left USF’s last match because she felt weak. She showed no side effects, leading the Bulls with 14 kills.

After the offense exploded last weekend against Georgetown and St. John’s, hitting more than .300 in both matches, it cooled a little against Villanova, only managing .213.

“Our efficiency wasn’t as high as we would like, but I was really proud of our passing,” Lessinger said. “We got much better as the match went on.”

Despite the low hitting percentage, two other Bulls reached double-figure kills. Pamela Luiz and Alli Arbogast both had 10. Arbogast didn’t record a hitting error and had an individual hitting percentage of .769.

“Part of our game plan was to get her involved offensively, so we kept going to her, and she played really well,” Lessinger said of Arbogast’s performance.

The Bulls’ defense, which has been strong through the winning streak, held the Wildcats to .096. USF led 8-2 in blocks as well.

“They run a really fast offense, and it’s not easy to get blocks against them, but I think our blockers in general did a good job of slowing the ball down and giving our defense a chance,” Lessinger said.

USF’s winning streak has pushed the team up to a tie for fourth with Louisville in the Big East standings. The Bulls face the Cardinals on Friday and have four conference matches remaining before the Big East tournament, which begins in late November.