USF loses to North Texas, falls to fifth in AAC

South Florida recorded its first conference loss at home on Friday against North Texas. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

In a close contest, USF volleyball lost 3-1 against North Texas on Friday in the Yuengling Center.

They are now fifth in overall standing, falling behind Rice. Despite the loss, the Bulls (13-8,7-3 AAC) remain in second place in the east region of the American. 

The Bulls and the Mean Green (12-11, 6-4 AAC) played neck and neck for all four sets of the match. The two teams tied 54 times and exchanged the lead 18 times by the end of the game. 

Coach Jolene Shepardson said the Bulls’ performance was similar to their 3-0 loss to Wichita State on Oct. 8. In their game against the Shockers (13-5, 7-1 AAC), the Bulls also remained close in points throughout all three sets. 

She said that in both games her team’s skill was present but there were areas for growth.

“We want to fight for every point, but we need to execute a little bit better,” Shepardson said.

The Bulls fought tooth and nail in the first set to come out on top 27-25. The final set point was won due to a successful challenge against a touching-the-net violation. The Bulls only led by as many as three points and tied 16 times with the Mean Green.

North Texas would take the win in the second set 25-17 after jumping out to a 9-3 lead. 

The third set of the game began with the Bulls down 17-13. However, they erased the deficit to set up a competitive end. They lost to the Mean Green 33-31 in the highest-scoring set of the season for USF — a volleyball set is typically played to 25 points. North Texas had six set-point opportunities while South Florida had two.

The fourth and final set of the game followed the pattern of the sets before, with a close score of 25-23.

Shepardson said the team’s effort in practice reflected in their performance against North Texas. 

“We didn’t have a great week of practice and it showed. I think we need to be sharper and they know we need to be sharper in the gym consistently to play against good opponents,” she said. 

The Bulls will begin a four-game road trip, which is the longest of the season. Shepardson said she believes they are going to be well-matched with their upcoming competitors. 

Next weekend, the Bulls face Tulsa and Southern Methodist, the current No. 1 team in the conference. 

“I want my team to take the next step and rise when we face a team that’s pushing back,” Shepardson said. “Let’s see if we can do that on the road.”

USF volleyball will travel to Oklahoma to take on Tulsa on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Broadcasting details are TBA