USF opens Big East slate

Coming off a win against Jacksonville on Sunday after two straight losses, USF coach Claire Lessinger said she feels the team is in the right place entering conference play.

The Bulls (4-7) open their conference slate this weekend, hosting Marquette (7-5) on Friday and undefeated Syracuse (16-0) on Sunday.

“We’re building off that, and it was a good way to end the preseason schedule (non-conference play) to go into the Big East schedule,” Lessinger said. “Wrapped with a win and really look at it as if we’re 0-0 now.”

After eight straight road games to open the season, the Bulls will have played five straight home games after this weekend.

“Knowing how good fans are and how many people come to our games, it was so welcoming,” she said.

The team has prepared for this weekend by meeting with its sports psychologist and in the video room, Lessinger said, also having them break down their technical game in practice.

“When we’re usually in season, we’re spending a lot more time in six-on-six in a competitive drill,” Lessinger said. “We go three courts. Setters on one court, middles on one court and blocking on one court.”

Lessinger said the team has the potential to become a force in the Big East.

“We have a lot of talent, a ton of athleticism and, when we put together and put multiple good contacts together, we can compete with anybody,” she said. “We proved that in our nonconference schedule, taking Kentucky to five (sets).”

With Marquette and Syracuse in town this weekend, Lessinger said the team needs to be more consistent.

“We have to get many victories within the victories to keep ourselves rolling, I think, and stay patient,” she said. “If this goes five sets, we need to have the mentality, if we win set one, that it’s not over.”