USF volleyball overcame Memphis 3-2 on Friday in the first of three matches taking place at the Yuengling Center.
It was a back-and-forth contest throughout with both teams alternating the first four sets. South Florida (9-14, 3-8 AAC) dropped the first set 25-19, but bounced back in the second half winning it 25-20.
After losing the third set 25-20 to the Tigers, USF won the final two sets 25-14 and 17-15.
The Bulls found their rhythm on offense as the match progressed. Across five sets they had 52 kills and 48 assists. Their nine service aces in the match also showed they could capitalize on their serving opportunities.
South Florida’s defense also stood its ground, totaling 62 digs and 16 blocks. After allowing a hitting percentage of 37% in the first set, they held Memphis (17-9, 7-6 AAC) to 16% through the rest of the match.
Individually, there were strong performances that contributed to Friday’s win. Junior outside hitter Marta Cvitkovic had 16 kills and five service aces in the match, and sophomore right-side Amanda Dewitt followed with 14 kills and four blocks. Dewitt also got the kill that clinched the Bulls the match in the fifth set.
Friday night’s match marked the first of three games that will be held in the Yuengling Center this season. Coach Jolene Shepardson believed her players fed off the intensity of their home environment.
“I think they really appreciate the love, the energy, feel,” Shepardson said. “It’s just a great environment to play for our players.”
Winning over Memphis gives the Bulls back-to-back wins. The last time they did that this season was Sept. 16 against Cornell and Stetson. Shepardson believes wins like these help the team learn how to push through adversity.
“We’re becoming resilient,” Shepardson said. “I think we’re growing fighters. They’re not gonna give up. I think they came together as a team … and that was huge.”
The Bulls take on SMU on Sunday at noon. The game will take place at the Yuengling Center and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.