TAMPA - A strong start wasn’t enough to fuel the University of South Florida
past one of its toughest Big East opponents in Louisville Friday night, in
front of a packed crowd at the Corral.
(9-7 overall, 1-2 BIG EAST) was just two points away from taking its match up
with the 17th-ranked Cardinals to a fifth and final set. The Bulls fell to
Louisville (13-2, 2-1) in a four sets, 20-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-23.
The Bulls were led on offense by freshman outside Erin Fairs,
who tied a career high with 17 kills and was second on the team with a
career-high 15 digs.
“She just had a really consistent night for us,” head coach
Courtney Draper said. “If she can continue to do that throughout conference
play, I think that we will be very successful.”
The Bulls looked confident in their first set as they
excelled in their defensive coverage to jump out to a 16-10 lead. That did not
bother the Cardinals as they quickly went on a five-point run to bring the
match to within a point.
Momentum was back on the Bulls side after a long rally
was ended by one fierce swing from junior Andrea Rodriguez Gomez, helping the
Bulls take the first set 25-20.
“We stuck to our game plan,” Fairs said. “We were very
It was back and forth as the teams came out exchanging
points in the second set. Neither team led by more than two points until the
Cardinals scored six unanswered points to convert a close 19-18 game to a 25-18
victory for the Cardinals.
The Bulls struggled in the third set after letting the
Cardinals go on a six-point run, giving them a 15-8 lead the Bulls never
recovered from. Louisville went on to win the set, 25-20.
The task of covering proved to a bit more difficult in what
would be the final set of the game. After trailing for the majority of the
fourth set the Bulls fought back to tie the Cardinals at 23 but could not score
again, losing the set 25-23.
The Bulls only have a day off to bounce back, and return to
the court to face another Big East opponent in Cincinnati at the Corral Sunday
at 1 p.m.