Fans who head to the Sun Dome Corral will see a different team during the USF Tournament this weekend.
Senior middle blocker Caitlyn Breen said that even though the team won its
final two games of the St. Louis Tournament and came out as tournament champions, the transformation came after an opening loss against Southeast Missouri State.
We all kind of came together after Fridays match and we had a little team meeting, she said. We just kind of reiterated our goals for the season, and why were there and why were all on the same team. So we came out a little different, a little more fired up on Saturday.
Coach Courtney Draper says that she noticed the change in her squad from the first tip and credits her senior leaders for stepping up.
Throughout the season, its been kind of one of those things that you couldnt really put your finger on, she said. There was just some tension or something that wasnt right. The leadership of our team took things into their hands, and it was a totally different team Saturday. I told them that whatever happened, what they did to hold each other accountable, I asked them to do it all season.
The different team beat Evansville and St. Louis on Saturday, dropping just one set in two matches. While the team as a whole set 17 different personal records, Breen had nine blocks of her own, helping lead the team to both wins.
Following the tournament championship, the Bulls return home for their final tournament before they begin Big East play. With three games in three days, against James Madison, Bethune Cookman and Florida International, Draper said her teams depth will be vital.
It is hard to play back-to-back-to-back days, and I think thats where depth becomes important, she said. Thats something that weve shown that we have, but weve tackled that for the first three weekends, so I think it will be a similar challenge.
Breen insists that the crowd will be watching a new team.
Its almost like were coming home for the first time this season, she said. I think with our newfound confidence, its going to be a whole new team that our fans are going to get to watch. We havent really showed what we have to the crowd yet.
The Bulls open the USF Tournament with a match against James Madison on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by Bethune Cookman Saturday at 7 p.m. and a 1 p.m. start against Florida International on Sunday.
Follwing the tournament, the team will begin to prepare for Big East conference play, which will begin on Sep 22, when the team heads to New Jersey to take on Rutgers.