USF volleyball bounced back from an away defeat against Memphis last week and swept UAB 3-0 in two matches on Friday and Saturday.
Bulls sophomore outside hitters Buse Hazan and Maria Clara Andrade shined in the back-to-back wins by leading the team in kills.
Here’s a look at how the weekend went for USF.
USF 3, UAB 0
The Bulls (10-6, 4-1 AAC) welcomed the Blazers (2-15, 0-5 AAC) to the Corral on Friday after the Tigers (5-12, 1-4 AAC) snapped their five-game winning streak last week. South Florida swept UAB with scores of 25-20, 25-21, 25-19.
USF had 17 failed serves and opened the game by giving away two points. Despite the error, a sharp kill by Hazan quickly opened South Florida’s scoring.
The Bulls went on to take the lead and maintain it throughout the set despite UAB’s continued efforts. The first set ended with a kill by Andrade and an error by UAB’s freshman outside hitter Mia Reese.
USF won the first point of set two, but eventually gave up the lead due to three consecutive errors.
South Florida went on an 8-0 run before Andrade provided the Blazers a point through an error. The set came to a close when Hazan ended a rally with another kill.
The set-winning kill was among many timely plays involving Hazan on Friday, who suffered an injury-plagued season last year.
She said it was a difficult point that pushed her mentally and physically, as she suffered another injury soon after recovering from the first one. It took her around eight months to fully recover and get back on the court.
“Our athletics trainer was so helpful, they helped me so much. And our coach was helping me mentally and supporting me,” she said.
Shepardson said she always believed in Hazan and was proud of her for staying tough through the emotional battle as a freshman.
“I always believed in her. I recruited her, I knew her probably the best and it’s tough to transition into a new country, new role and a new team, and with an injury,” Shepardson said.
“I’m proud of her for being tough and persevering because that’s an emotional toll and that’s tough mentally, she endured that first year so she’s tougher because of that.” The third set started with a South Florida point but evolved into a constant back and forth between both teams. This occurred until midway through the set when USF called a timeout at 12-12.
USF had a scoring spree afterwards, but the Blazers went on a 3-0 run while USF was on game point. This run gave UAB hope of making a comeback. Andrade quickly killed this hope and won the game for the Bulls.
As the Bulls were getting ready to take on UAB again the next day, Shepardson said they didn’t want to underestimate their opponent like they did against Memphis.
“We’re not [getting complacent] ever again. We made that mistake last week and our team learned that. They’re quick learners. They’re smart, young women, they know what to do,” Shepardson said.
“UAB has got some great athletes so we’re not taking them lightly. They’re gonna respond and they’re gonna play their best game and we got to be ready to play ours.”
South Florida 3, UAB 0
The green and gold were able to maintain their winning streak against UAB to clinch another 3-0 match.
For their first set, both teams were neck-and-neck as USF trailed closely behind UAB in digs and kills.
Toward the end of the set, the Blazers were leading the match 21-19. However, South Florida quickly turned it around by capitalizing on the opponent’s serving errors. The Blazers had five servicing errors during the set while USF had three. The Bulls eventually secured the first set 25-23.
The Bulls’ momentum carried them into the second set with a lead of 13 points over the Blazers. South Florida was able to shut out UAB in a 25-13 set.
Hazan and Andrade led in kills in this game as well with 17 and 10. The Bulls also had five aces, one more than their opponent.
South Florida totaled 43 kills collectively compared to UAB’s 28.
Shepardon said she is proud that her team’s training translated onto the court for these two games.
“[Andrade] usually does bring the heat. We’ve been working on her playing that high game, keeping everything fast, and I think she was really excelling on what we were working on this week,” Shepardson said.
“I’m proud of her for that. She was being aggressive in all sorts of different angles so she did good.”
The final set started a little slow for USF as UAB had a lead in the first three points. But similar to its prior set, USF made a comeback after their fourth point was made.
The Bulls quickly shut out UAB again in another 25-13 set. Despite winning on Saturday, Shepardson said she wants to see her team play as a more cohesive defense in future matches.
“Our blocking has gotten better [and] we’ve been working on being disciplined with our front and back row. We’re doing a better job, but we’re just not consistent,” Shepardson said. “Just a couple things to sharpen up there, but overall I’m happy with the way we’re progressing.”
USF has been improving its style of play as it has won five of its six previous matches.
Their next opponent is coming off a four-game conference losing streak. UTSA (8-8, 1-4) hasn’t seen a win since beating Charlotte 3-0 on Sept. 20.
In USF’s previous two conference games against Memphis on Sept. 23 and 24, South Florida took home the first win in a 3-0 set, but they dropped the second game in a 3-1 loss. These games shifted Shepardson’s focus heading into their next road trip.
Shepardson said she wants her team to better maintain their composure and not get complacent when having a lead like they did with Memphis.
“It’s all about moving forward, but we got some great opponents ahead of us so we have to keep working,” Shepardson said.
“[I see] the things we’re capable of doing and the pressure we put on people. We know we can do that, so we’ve got to be disciplined and take care of it point after point. If we relax, we know teams can gain momentum, so we have to stay on it.”
The Bulls will tavel to Texas for their next conference game against UTSA on Oct. 6. Broadcasting and tip off time for this game is still TBA.