Tom Hagerty

Prepared Bulls Kick Off Big East Play Saturday

September 21, 2012

WHO: USF (8-5) at Rutgers (14-1)

WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: College Ave. Gym, Piscataway, N.J.




USF Senior Writer

TAMPA - The USF volleyball team certainly has it together at the right time.

The Bulls ride a six-match winning streak into Saturday's 2 p.m. match at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights (14-1) have won 12 straight entering the Big East opener for both programs.

"We're thrilled. We talk about Big East at least once every practice," USF head coach Courtney Draper said. "It usually comes up once or twice during a preseason match because everything we're doing throughout the preseason is preparing us for conference play."

USF put the finishing touches on the "preseason," or non-conference schedule, by taking care of FGCU in four sets Tuesday night at the Corral. The Bulls had a streak of 11 consecutive set wins going before dropping one against the Eagles.

"With Big East coming, we're more focused on our goals," said freshman Erin Fairs, who posted 11 kills and 11 digs in the victory.

The Bulls feel prepared going into Big East play partially because of what they've had to face in the non-conference season. USF opened the season with powerhouse opponents Wisconsin and Creighton, and the Bulls also have played in two difficult tournaments away from the Corral. Draper's squad took two out of three to win the St. Louis Tournament the last time it was on the road.

"I have to give a shout out to Claire Lessinger, the previous coach that set up this schedule for us, because it really is a nice balance throughout the preseason opening with Wisconsin and Creighton, who are some of the top teams in the country," Draper said. "It was a good balance of challenging us and allowing us to be successful. I think that experience is really going to help us once we get into conference play."

The Bulls will stay in New Jersey to take on Seton Hall 2 p.m. Sunday before heading back to the Corral to host Louisville on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

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