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Fairs leads Bulls into difficult weekend on road

USF volleyball coach Courtney Draper said she thinks sophomore Erin Fairs may someday have her jersey retired.

It’s not often that a coach praises a player the way Draper praises Fairs.

“She’s the heart and soul of this team,” she said. “She just does it all.”

Fairs started off the 2013 season on a tear, continuing the play that earned her the Big East Freshman of the Year award last season when she lead the team with 316 kills and collected 313 digs, the highest on the team outside of the libero/defensive specialist position.

Her 19-kill, 23-dig performance in Saturday’s win against Austin Peay brought new personal bests for Fairs, a day after an 18-kill, 19-dig match against Miami.

But the Texas native said she believes she has yet to reach her potential as a player.

“I think I can get even better than this past weekend and I’m only going to work harder from here,” she said.

The potential growth of Fairs remains to be seen, but her progress in the past year under the tutelage of Draper has been impressive, changing positions and adapting to leadership roles.

Draper said she believes Fairs has not only grown as a player over the past year, but also as a person.

“She was a little unsure of herself (early last year), but now she has seven freshmen looking up to her which has forced her into a leadership position,” Draper said. “She really is the complete athlete and she does all of her school work.”

Fairs doesn’t stop at dominating on the court, she carries her leadership off the court as well.

“She’s a true leader, not just on the court. She’s really good friends with everybody and she’s always trying to lead,” sophomore Natalia Soares said. “She’s very intense and happy. As you see her on the court, she is like that off it too.”

Fairs’ weekend earned her a spot on the first ever AAC (American Athletic Conference) Honor Roll, a list that Fairs could be on many more times throughout her career at USF.

“I felt accomplished, like I did what I was supposed to do this weekend,” Fairs said.

But Fairs has her sights set on much higher goals.

“In my older years, I would like to be player of the conference and an All-American as well,” she said.

This weekend, Fairs and the Bulls travel to Nebraska to play California, Creighton and Northern Colorado.

Wins over California and Creighton could give the Bulls their first national recognition since beating Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament last year, as California is receiving votes to be in the top 25 and Creighton is ranked 19th.

The weekend kicks off against California at 3:30 p.m. in Omaha, Neb.