USF battles Cincinnati in Big East first round

With West Virginia and St. John’s losing their final matches of the regular season, the USF volleyball team clinched the No. 8 seed in the Big East tournament despite losing its own finale Sunday and face No. 1 seed Cincinnati in the first round on Friday in Pittsburgh.

The two teams met Oct. 23, when the Bearcats (26-4, 13-1) defeated the Bulls (10-16, 6-8) in straight sets with Bearcats’ senior outside hitter Stephanie Niemer leading the way with 11 kills.

The Bulls enter the tournament losing five straight matches and six of their last seven in conference play. Their last win came against Seton Hall on Oct. 29, with the Bulls winning in four sets.

The Bulls are led by senior outside hitter Allie Boaz, who is having an outstanding season with 296 kills, 3.25 kills per set and 45 blocks. She also has a .289 hitting percentage.

Boaz has earned five Big East Weekly Honor Rolls this season.

USF looks to avenge last year’s loss to Cincinnati in the tournament when the Bearcats eliminated the Bulls in the semifinals in straight sets.

This is USF’s fifth consecutive trip to the Big East tournament, where they have never gotten past the semifinals.