USF volleyball wins first AAC game

Career performances by junior right side hitter Elyse Panick (18 digs) and sophomore middle blocker Joli Holland (12 kills) helped lead the women’s volleyball team to an AAC victory over Connecticut on Sunday, 25-23, 16-25, 25-20 and 25-16, their first of the season.

“It feels great. I was really proud of our kids,” coach Courtney Draper said.

The Bulls, who were swept by Temple in Friday’s conference opener, had a slow start, but were able to grind out a two-point win in the first set. They weren’t as lucky in the second set, though, losing 25-16.

Still, Draper was confident her squad could turn things around.

“I didn’t really see anything strategic between (sets) two and three,” Draper said. “It was a lot more about just taking care of our side and being more efficient.”

USF (4-10, 1-1) came out strong in the third set, pulling out to 12-3 lead. While the Huskies tried to mount a comeback, the Bulls were just too strong.

With victory in sight, USF did not hold back, lighting up the crowd at The Corral and the scoreboard as it cruised to victory.

As a team, USF hit .204 while UConn (6-7, 0-2) hit .185.

Draper said she’s hopeful it’s a sign of things to come. The Bulls host Houston on Friday.

“We said all year that there’s so much potential, it’s just reaching that potential,” Draper said. “When our best players are on, we’re pretty unstoppable.

“They just all have to be on at the same time.”