WHO: Syracuse at USF
WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: USF Varsity Courts, free admission
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The No. 43 Bulls start their spring schedule off with Syracuse for the second straight season when action begins Saturday morning at the USF Varsity Courts.
"Yes, there is pressure with it being our first match and us playing a team in our own conference, but that gets us ready," USF head coach Agustin Moreno said. "That gives us momentum right away. During the break we have that in mind, and in the end it pays off."
The Bulls started off the 2012 spring season with a 5-2 win over the Orange last January in Tampa. USF wound up finishing as the runner-up at the Big East Championships and Moreno has everyone back for another run at a conference title.
"I'm pleased how they worked out during the break. Some of them did a great job and will be ready for the match," said Moreno, whose Bulls started practice on Monday.
The Bulls again will be led by senior Katie Vasenina, who is ranked 35th nationally in singles play after making it to the NCAA Championships as an individual last spring. Vasenina went 8-5 this fall and defeated five ranked players.
Another player to watch is No. 75 Loreto Alonso Martinez, who started the fall off with nine straight victories and finished with a 10-2 record.
Vasenina, Alonso Martinez and the rest of the Bulls know their offseason conditioning will help against a physical Syracuse team that forced a trio of three-set singles matches against USF last year.
"Syracuse is a team that has one way of playing, which is serve and volley. They're pretty aggressive and that's their style of playing," Moreno said. "We know them very well and they're a tough team. They're one of the toughest teams in the Big East."
USF's season continues Jan. 19-21 at the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor. The Bulls' next home match is Saturday, Feb. 2 against No.38 Florida State.