USF volleyball hadn’t won a division or conference title in 21 years – until Friday.
The Bulls (18-11,12-6 AAC) split two matches 3-1 and 3-0 to clinch a share of the American Athletic Conference East Division title against the Owls on Thursday and Friday in Boca Raton, FL.
The top three teams in the AAC standings — USF, FAU (19-11, 11-6 AAC) and Eastern Carolina — are within two games of one another and could potentially end the season with tied records. This means that the Bulls could possibly share the title with another team.
USF can claim the title outright if it wins against Rice and FAU loses to Tulane on Wednesday. A potential three-way tie is possible if ECU wins their final two games.
Here’s a look at how the two games played out at Abessinio Court.
FAU 3, USF 1 – Thursday
The Owls came off of a two-game winning streak against Charlotte last weekend. The team continued its momentum in the first set of Thursday’s game.
The Bulls had a hard time keeping up as the Owls’ defense prevailed.
Florida Atlantic held South Florida to a hitting percentage of .027 in the first set, and .031 in the second.
Before Thursday’s game, the Bulls had a team-hitting percentage of .234 for the season.
USF lost the first set 25-18 after struggling to keep up with FAU.
However, the Bulls regained momentum in the second set when they leaped to a 3-0 lead at the beginning of the game. The Owls eventually retaliated and the scores remained close throughout the entire set.
South Florida took the win for set two at the last second due to a service error from Florida Atlantic.
The Owls dominated sets three and four. The Bulls lost 25-20 in the third set and 27-25 in the fourth.
With Friday’s loss, the Bulls missed their opportunity to win the division title outright.
USF 3, FAU 0 – Friday
South Florida struggled to serve effectively at the beginning of Friday’s game. Almost half of Florida Atlantic’s points were a result of six USF service errors during the first set.
USF had 15 service errors in the game.
The Bulls managed to get a lead over the Owls with 13 kills and three aces to win set one, 25-19.
The scoreboard remained close throughout the match. However, the Bulls brought it home after an ace from sophomore outside hitter Buse Hazan led to the game’s set point.
After the set point, an attack error from FAU closed out the second-set win for USF.
The Bulls and the Owls tied scores nine separate times throughout the competitive final set. South Florida remained close in points with Florida Atlantic but got the upper hand after scoring six straight points on the Owls.
USF swept the match 3-0 after a kill from sophomore outside hitter Maria Clara Andrade finished out the 25-22 win for the Bulls.
USF will face off against Rice at home in The Corral on Nov. 22 at 12:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+