Earlier this year, Tampa was selected as the host city of the 2023 NCAA Volleyball national championship in December, but it was also picked present the season opener.
South Florida volleyball will host three other schools at the Road 2 Tampa Bay Volleyball Invitational on Aug. 25-26 to kick off their 2023 season.
Along with USF (10-20, 4-14 AAC), UF, Georgia Tech and Penn State will be the three other competitors in the prestigious event.
In this tournament, the Bulls will face two Top 25 schools from the previous season — No. 12 Florida and No.16 Georgia Tech.
USF will play at Amelia Arena on the first night of the showcase against Georgia Tech (21-8, 13-5 ACC) at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25.
Georgia Tech is a powerhouse team under coach Michelle Collier, a former USF Athletics Hall of Famer. Only losing five of their conference games last season, the Yellow Jackets made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before they were swept by Marquette 3-0.
On the second day of the competition, USF will face UF at the Yuengling Center at 8 p.m. The Gators (25-6, 15-3 SEC) could pose a similar threat to South Florida as the Yellow Jackets. Like GT, Florida finished their season in the NCAA semifinals, losing to Pittsburgh, 3-1.
During her 32 seasons with the Gators, coach Mary Wise has taken them to eight NCAA Final Four appearances and won 24 SEC regular-season titles.
This season-opening tournament will give South Florida’s volleyball a glimpse of how prepared they will be for their upcoming season ahead.
Tampa Bay Sports Commission vice president of events Claire Lessinger expressed her excitement about organizing such an acclaimed event. She also coached USF’s volleyball team from 2004-12.
“It’s going to be such a special and exciting way to begin what will truly be a special volleyball season for Tampa Bay,’’ Lessinger said.
“We’ll have top 10-level teams and a lot of fun human-interest stories. It’s a perfect way to start and bring attention to the sport. Volleyball has come a long way since we last hosted this event.’’