Collective victory leads Bulls to first win in AAC opener since 2014

Jac’cara Walker led USF with 11 kills and eight digs Friday in USF’s AAC opener. ORALCE FILE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

They say you learn a lot from losing, but they don’t talk about learning from winning. 

USF volleyball (7-8, 1-0) seemed to get better with every set in its straight-set win (25-22, 25-19, 25-18) over Temple on Friday at The Corral.

The Bulls’ first win in a conference opener since 2014 was a collective victory. Junior setter Rafaela Biegelmeyer collected 35 assists — eight more than opposing setter sophomore Tyler Lindgren — while freshman middle blocker Ally Barnhart recorded five blocks. 

But senior spark plug Jac’cara Walker was the stand-out. With 11 kills and eight digs, Walker led the team on both ends.

“She’s incredible, she does it all,” coach Courtney Draper said. “You know, most people do, and overall her attacking ability, but really her defense tonight. She was making digs that most liberos can’t make and that’s not her position.” 

The Bulls did not have sophomore setter Lauren LaBeck available Friday. LaBeck missed the match for unspecified reasons, presenting a challenge, considering the Owls came in with a potentially intimidating 9-2 record. 

Draper knew the team could rise to the challenge, however.

“I think our girls are really excited not just to start conference play, but be able to start conference play at home,” she said. “We were without Lauren LaBeck tonight. But Rafa [Biegelmeyer] did a great job running our offense … really spreading our offense out and delivering a great ball for her hitters to be able to have a lot of success.”

And hit they did. Five Bulls recorded seven kills or more. Meanwhile, only one player had more than five kills for Temple: sophomore right-side hitter Peyton Boyd, with a game-high 12. 

After three-straight wins against Stetson, Bethune-Cookman and now Temple, the Bulls now face a 6-7 UConn team Sunday at 12 p.m. in The Corral looking to increase their winning streak to four. But it shouldn’t be a cakewalk.

The Bulls have lost their last two matches against the Huskies in straight sets, although the 10-10 historic record against each other proves the game could go either way. 

“We’re going to watch film and then we’ll have practice tomorrow and hopefully we’ll go 2-0 this weekend,” Walker said.