USF’s Boaz expects a friendly road crowd

Allie Boaz is going home.

The USF junior outside hitter will get a chance to play in her home state of Illinois on Friday when the Bulls face DePaul (6-21, 0-12) in Chicago at 6 p.m.

This is the second time Boaz, a native of Belleville, Ill., is playing there in her USF career. She recorded six kills and a .385 hitting percentage in a victory over DePaul her freshman year.

“I always enjoy playing in Chicago,” Boaz said. “My parents come … We’ll have our own little fan section there, and that always helps.”

Boaz has blossomed this year into a major offensive force for the Bulls. Her .319 hitting percentage is seventh in the Big East.

“I’m definitely enjoying this year more than past years,” she said. “Everyone has matured a little bit and we’ve all found our roles on the team.”

To make this year even more enjoyable for Boaz, she said she’s almost fully recovered from a painful knee injury two years ago.

In a match against UConn, Boaz hyperextended her knee and tore her ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus. She had reconstructive surgery that put her out for 11 months.

“All the rehab has made it a lot better,” she said.

Boaz and the rest of the Bulls (16-7, 8-4), who have already qualified for the Big East tournament, travel to face the best team in the Big East: Notre Dame (18-4, 12-0) on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Irish, ranked 24th in the country, lead the conference in offensive efficiency and kills per set.

“Both teams are going to give us a tough game,” said USF coach Claire Lessinger. “DePaul really wants that Big East win, and Notre Dame really wants to finish undefeated. Right now, it’s not about the records or the matchups. It’s about what’s on our girls’ minds, and they want to win.”

As the Bulls end the season with a shot to knock off Notre Dame, Boaz said she’s more excited to have a makeshift home court away from the USF Sun Dome Corral.

“It’s tough on the road when the fans are against you when we’re used to having them on our side here in our gym,” she said.