By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
The Bulls' valiant run at the Big East Tournament came to an end Sunday afternoon.
USF pushed the Panthers to four sets, but suffered a 24-26, 25-23, 23-25, 19-25 loss that ended the Bulls' conference season in Pittsburgh.
USF and Pittsburgh were virtually playing for one of the final spots in the Big East Tournament in conference regular season for both schools. The Bulls and Panthers both ended up finishing 7-7 in the Big East, and Sunday's victory gives Pittsburgh (18-12) the tiebreaker over USF.
"I'm proud of this young team and what they were able to accomplish in a season that had a lot of adversity thrown at us," head coach Claire Lessinger said.
Syracuse and Seton Hall started the day at 7-6 in the conference, and both won to clinch berths in the tournament.
Senior libero Janice Rivera ended her memorable USF career with a 23-dig performance that gave her 1,242 digs in three seasons and ranks her fourth all-time in program history.
Outside hitter Valerie El Houssine ended her superb freshman season as a Bull with a double-double (15 kills, 13 digs). Season assist leader Shelbie Dailey racked up 39 more and Claudia Cabrera finished with 14 digs.
A night before USF's season finale, Lessinger earned her 100th career victory with the Bulls (11-16).
USF's season comes to a close Wednesday with a 1 p.m. home match against Florida A&M at the USF Recreation Center.
"We are thankful to have one more home match that will provide us an opportunity to end on a high note," Lessinger said.