USF secures winning weekend to start season

Everyone was on the edge of their seats Saturday as not only the match, but the entire tone for the weekend was about to be determined. 

The ball was set for freshman Kayla Bivins and the audience members held their breaths as she went for the kill. 

USF’s opponent, Ball State (2-1), shifted to attempt to block the kill from Bivins, but the front line was a step too late. 

“As soon as I went up, I knew I was going to get the kill,” Bivins said, “I wasn’t going to hit it into the block, I had to get it down.”

The ball arrived before Ball State could properly position themselves and it ricocheted off the hand of a player. 

The game was over, along with the USF Invitational, and USF (3-1) emerged victorious. This was after beginning the week with a 3-1 loss to Miami.  

The crowd could be seen pumping their fists, clapping and hollering their cheers of approval at the outcome of the nearly two and a half hour match. 

“I think the No. 1 key component was their effort,” coach Courtney Draper said. “There were a couple of plays where Ball State started to celebrate because they thought the game was over, but our kids gave a crazy effort to keep the ball alive.”

Moments like these are what can make or break a season, Draper said.  A couple small mistakes could have easily swung the outcome into a Ball State victory and left USF with a 2-2 record. 

“It’s huge because next weekend is a really tough tournament,” she said. “We really needed to be pushed like Ball State pushed us, but it was nice to give our kids some confidence too.” 

The win over Ball State made for a three-game win streak for the Bulls after beating Austin Peay 3-1 earlier that day and a 3-0 win over Citadel on Friday. 

Last year, USF began the season by going 1-3 on opening weekend, but this year the Bulls have a winning record as they take on No. 19-ranked Creighton this weekend.

USF’s next game is against California at 3:30 p.m. on Friday in Omaha, Neb.