The University of South Florida volleyball team's "Dig Pink" day may have been spoiled with a five-set loss to Connecticut, but as a whole the Bulls' 1-1 weekend continued to show lots of promise as USF shoots for a strong seeding in the BIG EAST Tournament come November.
A few things to note:
- When passing well, the Bulls' offense may be the most balanced in the conference. USF had six players post at least 14 kills over the two-match weekend, including 33 from its middle blockers, who hit a combined .422 in 64 swings.
In the four sets head coach Courtney Draper defined as sets in which the team passed well, the Bulls' middles were especially potent, knocking out 24 kills and hitting .538. As a team, USF hit .329 with 68 kills in those sets, splitting the production from the three positions nearly into exact thirds.
- The Bulls' six-rotation players in Valerie El Houssine and Erin Fairs have teamed with senior libero Claudia Cabrera to take on leading roles in the USF passing game. Last weekend, Cabrera led the Bulls with four digs per set, while El Houssine and Fairs each dug an average of 3.67 balls per set to held carry the load. Cabrera is eighth in the BIG EAST, averaging 4.65 digs per set, while El Houssine and Fairs have combined for 19 double-doubles this season with no indication of slowing their pace.
The trio has also shouldered the bulk of the serve-receive game, taking charge of 86 percent of all opposing serves.- The BIG EAST Standings have become a jumbled mess as seven teams compete for the 4-8 spots. Marquette, Louisville and Notre Dame sit atop the standings with one loss each, but the next seven teams have between three and six losses. Only eight teams make the BIG EAST Tournament, which means at least two of those squads in the middle of the pack will not make the trip to Marquette for a shot at the BIG EAST title.
- If the season ended today, USF (5-5) would be in the tournament as the seventh seed. The teams immediately below the Bulls in the standings are St. John's and Villanova - both of whom USF beat, meaning the Bulls win any tiebreak situations - with Piitsburgh also in the mix. USF travels to Pitt on Nov. 3, as four of the Bulls' final conference matches are on the road.
Ahead of the Bulls in the standings are Cincinnati (7-3), Seton Hall (5-4) and Connecticut (5-4) USF beat Cincinnati this year, lost to Seton Hall on the road, and lost to Connecticut this past weekend. The Bulls will get another crack at Connecticut Nov. 9, with a chance to nullify the Huskies' tiebreak advantage.
Before that happens however, USF will have to get through this weekend, heading to DePaul (2-7) and then facing Notre Dame (8-1) in Indiana.