Bulls fall to Hoosiers in 5 sets

USF volleyball hung tough with No. 11 Florida, then fell to Long Beach State after winning the first two sets. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

USF volleyball (4-7) scared Indiana before falling in five sets (25-16, 18-25, 25-17, 16-25, 15-8) Friday night at The Corral.

Indiana, coming in on a five-game win streak, felt unstoppable after beating No. 15 Kentucky.

For the majority of the match, though, a win seemed in the Bulls’ sights, as they pushed the Hoosiers to their limit, taking Set 1 and Set 3. 

Senior Jac’cara Walker started strong, recording five of her 13 kills in the first set alone. 

But Indiana’s assistant coach Daniel Gwitt wouldn’t let the powerhouse outside hitter continue for long. 

“They’re going to force the ball to her,” he shouted out during the middle of the second set.

That didn’t fall on deaf ears as Indiana pulled away to tie the match, taking the second set 25-18.

The Bulls took the third set thanks to calm and calculated defense from freshman Ally Barnhart, who recorded a team-high two solo blocks and three block assists on the match. Fellow freshman Jac St. Cin carried the offensive load, ending the match with 20 kills and 35 attempts.

Indiana pulled away though, with even scoring numbers across the board, with three players — Megan Sloan, Jacqui Armer and Breana Edwards — recording 10 kills. 

The fifth set was all Indiana. After an 8-4 Indiana lead, coach Courtney Draper pulled her team aside for a passionate speech

“Just keep fighting, because you never know,” Draper told her team. “That’s why we play sports, you just gotta keep fighting and keep fighting, and the two sets that we did win was by a good margin.”

Indiana managed to close out the game, however, winning the fifth set 15-8.

Despite the loss, Draper remained positive.

“When we’re firing on all cylinders, we are really hard to beat,” Draper said. “And we certainly had some great performances. Lauren Labeck did a great job defensively and running the offense. Obviously, Jac St. Cin had a great night with 20 kills. CC [Clausen] did a great job serving and really well defensively. So we did a lot of good things. But not all players had their ‘A-game’ and that’s okay … I’m just hoping that we’re a little bit sharper in that area tomorrow.”

The Bulls will have to have a short memory of Friday’s five-set loss, as USF takes on Indiana again Saturday at 2:00  p.m. followed by Stetson at 7:00 p.m.