TAMPA - The University of South Florida volleyball team once again hits the road for a crucial BIG EAST match against Villanova on Friday at 7 p.m. in Philly.
"Villanova is a well-coached team of fighters," said head coach Claire Lessinger. "Even as the personnel changes from year to year, this matchup is guaranteed to be a good one down to the wire."
USF (14-6 overall, 6-3 BIG EAST) is one slot above Villanova in fifth place in the conference standings with five BIG EAST matches to be played. The Wildcats (16-7 overall, 5-3 BIG EAST) ranks sixth in conference and are ranked one point ahead of the Bulls in the Pablo Rankings.
Last Time Out
On Tuesday, the Bulls tamed the FAMU Rattlers in a non-conference match up putting a 3-1 victory in the books. Playing its third match in four days did not faze USF as freshman Maija Strazdina had her strongest game of the year so far, posting six kills and five digs. Senior transfer Pamela Luiz led the way for the Bulls with 14 kills with seven digs, while junior Allie Boaz and senior Marcela Gurgel, the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, added 11 and 10 kills, respectively.
The Bulls finished the weekend with a perfect 2-0 record with sweeps over Georgetown and St. John's. Gurgel posted a team-high 14 kills on a .448 attack percentage against Georgetown. Gurgel added eight digs and three blocks, and junior Mariana Thon handed out 25 assists. Freshman transfer Janice Rivera had a match-high 17 digs, while senior Alli Arbogast posted a match-high seven blocks.
Gurgel led all players with 16 kills against St. John's and added a team-high eight digs with four blocks, while senior transfer Pamela Luiz posted 13 kills and seven digs. Thon handed out 20 assists and Arbogast had a match-high seven blocks.
The Bulls hit solid at the net on a .391 attack percentage, while limiting St. John's to a .104 clip.
Arbogast continues to rank in the top-10 of the national leader board for the fourth week in a row, as she slides up a spot to third place in blocks per set with 1.61, with the top player of the nation at 1.67. Although the rankings do not come out until next Monday, Arbogast's eight blocks on Tuesday increased her blocks per set to 1.63. Redshirt freshman Caitlyn Breen finds herself 93rd with 1.09 blocks and leads all freshmen in the BIG EAST. Gurgel currently ranks 48th in the nation in points per set with 4.46. As a team, the Bulls remain fifth in the country in blocks, averaging 2.89 per set.
Villanova went 0-1 this week as they ventured out of conference. Against Fordham, the Wildcats were outlasted 3-2 in the Bronx.
Sophomore Maggie Mergen had a successful weekend at the net for VU, hitting .417 while recording 17 kills. Classmate Maria Nolan followed suit, posting six blocks for the Wildcats.
The Series History with the Wildcats
The match against Villanova will mark the sixth meeting between the teams. USF leads the series, 4-1, with the Bulls defeating the Wildcats in their last four meetings.
Villanova Live Chat and Twitter Updates
GoUSFBulls.com will be hosting a live chat during the Bulls matchup with Villanova. Please check out GoUSFBulls.com to join in. USF will also post updates on Twitter during the match against the Wildcats under @usfvolleyball.