CORAL GABLES, Fla. - In the championship game of the Hurricane Invitational, the University of South Florida volleyball team (3-0) defeated the University of Miami, 25-18, 26-24, 18-25, 25-22. This is the first time that the Bulls defeated a Top 50 team on the road under Bulls head coach Claire Lessinger's reign.
"I couldn't be prouder of this team right now," said Bulls head coach Claire Lessinger. "This is a great way to start the 2009 season. We played at such a high level tonight."
The Bulls held advantages in every statistical category. The Bulls held the advantage in kills (58-52), attack pct, (.236-.200), assists (52-47), digs (45-44), solo blocks (4-2), team blocks (12.5-12.0) and aces (5-3).
USF took control from the opening serve. The Bulls won the first two sets, dropped the third and won 25-22 in the third to claim the championship.
Senior Marcela Gurgel, the Preseason BIG EAST Player of the Year, once again climbed up the charts on the USF all-time career kills list. With 19 kills in the match, she surpassed Erica Berggren and Belinda Spivey, who had 1,438 apiece.
For her efforts, Gurgel was also named the MVP of the tournament. Seniors Alli Arbogast and Jarka Havlickova all made the all-tournament team
"What can you say about Marcela that hasn't been said before," said Lessinger. "Marcela is a tremendous player. She is our leader, and she came up big when we need her. She is primed for a big year."
The Bulls closed out the first set, 25-18. Gurgel led USF with five kills. The Bulls led the Canes in kills, 16-11, with a .394 to .077 advantage in attack percentage. Gurgel opened the set with the first kill of the match, which set the tone for the entire night.
With the score tied, 18-18, in the first set, the Bulls did not allow another point by the Canes, who were picked to finish third in the ACC. Junior Allie Boaz and Pamela Luiz added four kills each to Gurgels' five.
"As a team, we really wanted to come down here and show that we can play with anyone," said Gurgel. "We had great communication on the court and were able to take control early on in all three matches. We had a number of players step up and make things happen."
Gurgel once again led the Bulls in the second set with seven kills. The Bulls went on an early 4-0 run to take the 6-4 advantage. The Canes evened the score at 24-24 after being down, 24-22. Two back-to-back kills by Gurgel and freshman Caitlyn Breen ended the set, giving the Bulls the momentum.
With the 2-0 advantage, the Bulls could not close out the match in three sets as Miami won the third, 25-18.
The Bulls fell behind early, 4-1, in the fourth set. A 5-0 run gave the Bulls their first lead. The MVP led all in the fourth with six kills. Two early timeouts by the Canes, who fell to 2-1 on the season, did not the stop the USF offense. The Bulls defense held UM to a .065 attack percentage in the fourth set.
Sophomore Janice Rivera lead the match with 23 digs. This was the first win over the Canes since 1977.
"Being away from home early in the season will help us come together as a team," added Lessinger. "We are very excited to get back to Tampa and put on a tournament of our own."
The Bulls return to action next Friday and Saturday as they host the Best Western Invitational in for their first home matches in The Corral. The Bulls face Winthrop on Friday at 7 p.m. and FAU on Saturday at 7 p.m.