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USF Athletics Weekend Round Up 2/21

Spring Sports are in full swing in Tampa

Photo Courtesy of USF Athletics
USF Athletics

USF Athletics had a weekend full of action, with resurgent programs, season openers, upsets, and disappointing loses across the board.

USF Women’s Volleyball Sweeps ECU in Greenville

Coach Jo and USF Volleyball got the ‘weekend’ action started on Thursday when they traveled up to Greenville to take on ECU for the second conference series of the season. On Thursday they defeated the Pirates 3-1 (25-20, 13-25, 25-20, 25-19) to get their first road victory of the season. They had their best hitting of the season thus far at .268 helping lead to their first road conference win since 2018 when they defeated Houston. USF was led by freshman Marta Cvitkovic, who has been on fire since joining the Bulls by leading the team in kills for five straight matches.

Friday’s contest against ECU was a bit closer, but the Bulls prevailed 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 18-25, 15-6) to complete their sweep. For the sixth straight match, Marta Cvitkovic lead the Bulls in kills. Meanwhile junior CC Clausen got a career best 37 digs to help swing the momentum back in the bulls favor after a tough fourth set. Sophomore Jac St. Cin was able to secure the victory for USF in a dominant fifth set where the Bulls suffocated the opposing Pirates.

USF (5-3, 3-1 AAC) will look to continue this hot start after a long break between their next match against Cincinnati (4-2, 2-0 AAC) on March 4th and 5th in The Corral.

Men’s Soccer Upsets #14 C. in Orlando 2-1

After getting trounced in Dallas, losing to SMU 7-0 to move to 0-2 on the season, the Bulls got a much needed victory over their rival in the War on I-4, defeating the Golden Knights 2-1 in this season’s first edition of the rivalry.

In the 12th minute, freshman Oscar Resano got the party started by scoring on a set play off a free kick to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead over Central. The goal was the lone shot attempt that USF had in the first half, where the Bulls were outshot 11-1. They were able to double their lead in the 54th minute when junior Henrique Gallina was able to secure a goal off a corner kick assisted by sophomore Victor Claudel. An own goal by the Bulls gave Oviedo their only score of the game due to the outstanding play of junior GK Kazuna Takase, who collected 12 saves.

The Bulls now has an all-time record over the Golden Knights by a count of 23-7-3.

USF will travel up to Philly to take on Temple on February 27th, before returning home to host Tulsa on March 6th.

Women’s Soccer Defeats Temple 2-0 at Corbett

USF began conference play in the post-Evelyn Viens era by defeating Temple 2-0 to move to 2-0 on the season. USF struck blood first by getting a goal from senior midfielder Katie Kitchings. Kitchings was on the receiving end of a pass from senior transfer Paula Leblic (Oregon State), where Kitchings slotted it past the keeper to give USF a 1-0 lead in the 7th minute.

Later in the first half, it was Leblic’s turn, as the midfielder was able to score off a free kick in the 29th minute to double the lead for the Bulls. Defensively, the Bulls were able to keep the owls at bay all afternoon, who didn't record a shot attempt until the 44th minute. Sydney Martinez recorder her 12th career shutout, as the Owls only had two shots all afternoon and neither came on frame.

Next up will be a non-conference meeting against the University of Florida in Gainesville on February 27th.

Women’s Basketball Nets 12th Straight Victory by Defeating Tulane 78-69

USF women’s basketball continues their longest win streak in progrum history after defeating Tulane 78-69 for their 12th straight victory, and 17th straight over the Green Wave. The Bulls were led by Bethy ‘Double-Double Machine’ Mununga, who collected 17 points and 17 rebounds for the 18th of her career.

The hotly contested match had Tulane leading 21-18 after the first quarter, with the Green Wave shooting 64% from the field to take the lead. However, a much colder second quarter by both teams led to a halftime score of 30-30.

The second half started with a three by Elena Tsineke, and from there the Bulls led the rest of the way. Tsineke—playing for the first time since the COVID pause— chipped in 13 points for the Bulls off the bench. Sydni Harvey added 16 points. and Shae Leverett contributed 10 points for the Bulls.

On the other side, Tulane was led by freshman sensation Jerkaila Jordan, who had a game-high 29 points, followed by Arsula Clark with 20 points. The Green Wave also hit 26 of 29 free throws to keep the game close late, before the Bulls pulled away.

Next up for the Bulls (13-1, 11-0 AAC) will be a trip to Temple (9-8, 9-5 AAC) followed by traveling to Houston, before ending the season with back-to-back matches against C.

Men’s Basketball Bounces Back, Defeats Temple 83-76

USF used a strong first half with relentless defense to get a much needed victory over Temple to move to 8-8 on the season and 4-6 in the AAC. Late in the first half, the Bulls got a 15-2 run to turn a 20-19 game into a 33-21 lead with three minutes to go in the first half. Xavier Castañeda paced the Bulls with a career-high 18 points off the bench and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. David Collins added 14 points, and Alexis Yetna appears to have found his groove again, pouring in 12 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes of action. He also hit two threes to end a cold streak beyond the arc. Michael Durr also returned from injury and his physical presence was felt more than the scoresheet allowed, getting eight points and four rebounds.

Caleb Murphy had a quiet afternoon despite getting the scoring started by hitting a three off the opening tip, getting nine points and only registered one turnover to clean up his handles. Late in the game, with the Bulls leading by 10 with 44 seconds left, Temple hit a scoring flurry of six points in seven seconds to trim the lead late. For once, free throw shooting helped the Bulls as they hit four in the final 29 seconds to give the Bulls a win at Temple for the second straight year.

Defensively, the Bulls forced 17 turnovers against the Owls and collected 19 defensive rebounds (34 total) to help keep most Temple players at bay. The Owls got a 32 point performance out of Khalif Battle.

USF and Temple will face each other again on Wednesday, February 24th, this time in Tampa to continue conference play.

Baseball Struggles to Stay Consistent, Swept by FGCU

The Bulls dropped all three games against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday and Sunday to start the season, starting with a 4-1 loss in extras.

The Friday night opening season game was pushed to a Saturday mid-afternoon game due to inclement weather. RS freshman RHP Jack Jasiak got opening day start for the Bulls against FGCU that saw a pitching dual go deep into each bullpen for extra innings. Jasiak struck out five and allowed three hits in 6.1 innings of work, and did not issue a walk for the second time in his young career. Offensively, the Bulls got 12 hits but couldn’t muster a run until the 10th inning, and ended up leaving 15 runners on base.

None were as crucial as in the sixth, where the Bulls had runners on second and third with two outs, but FGCU’s starting pitcher Mason Studstill was able to get Dontae Mitchell to pop out to end the threat. In all, Studstill got six innings of work, gave up six hits and issued two walks to go along with six strikeouts.

The second game didn’t start much better, as the Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third to mount a lead the Bulls couldn’t overcome. USF got run support in the bottom of that inning with a sac fly by Dontae Mitchell, but the lead grew for FGCU over the next three innings. By the end of the sixth inning, it was 11-1 and Coach Mohl had to dig deep into his bullpen. RS sophomore RHP Brad Lord got the start and the loss after 3.2 innings of action resulted in six hits, five runs and six strikeouts. RS senior RHP Collin Sullivan also struggled mightily, giving up four hits and four runs with one strikeout in 1.1 innings.

The Bulls utilized LHP Hayden Wynja, LHP Caleb Pundsack, RHP Alex Lozado, and RHP Tanner Mink in the final four innings to stop the bleeding. The latter three held the FGCU bats in line to go three hitless innings to end the game. The Bats came alive for the Bulls in the bottom of the 9th, with USF trailing 11-2 they were able to add four runs, including two-run double by Roberto Pena to bring the score to 11-6. However, it wasn’t enough as the Bulls dropped to 0-2 on the season.

On Sunday, the wheels came off the wagon after a promising start for USF, that saw what appeared to be an insurmountable lead dissipate in one inning. The Bulls were leading 7-0 after the top of the fourth inning, and RS junior RHP Baron Stuart was doing enough to keep the Eagles at bay, before the bottom of the fourth inning saw the Eagles plate eight runners to take the lead in one inning.

Stuart would get a no decision after giving up five runs and striking out three. RHP Dawson Barr gave up an additional three runs, before LHP Joseph Sanchez would come in to try to stop the bleeding. Sanchez would be credited with the loss after he gave up two runs, giving the Eagles a lead.

Despite excellent hitting by three freshman Matt Ruiz (8-for-16), Drew Brutcher (5-for-11 and five walks), and Daniel Cantu (four RBI) all weekend long, the Bulls couldn’t stop the bleeding and get runners across the plate. USF totaled 35 hits over the weekend, but ice cold with runners in scoring position, going 11-for-48 and stranded 44 runners.

USF baseball will look to right the ship with a four-game set against Florida A&M February 26th-28th. The 26th will feature a double header starting at 1 p.m.

Softball Splits Games Against Jacksonville University

Coach Ken Eriksen saw his team split the double header against JU on Sunday afternoon, with the first game being a pitching dual decided in extra innings. As per usual, Georgina Corrick was on fire for the Bulls and got the start in the circle. The star pitcher went eight innings, gave up four hits and struck out 13. On the other side, JU’s Alyssa Bilodeau was matching the intensity keeping the Bulls off the scoring sheet. She allowed just three hits and five strikeouts and did not surrender a walk as the Bulls struggled to get balls in the soft spots of JUs defense.

The game was decided in the bottom of the eighth inning when redshirt freshman Jordyn Kadlub hit a walk-off homer run to lift the Bulls over the Dolphins 1-0 in game one.

However, game two was much less in the Bulls favor. USF is still looking for a solid second option behind Corrick. Camryn Dolby got the start in the circle, but after only two innings, she surrendered four runs to give the Dolphins a quick 4-0 lead. It was quickly doubled in the third inning after Maddie Gardner gave up four runs to give the visitors a 8-0 lead. Errors would plague the Bulls all afternoon, committing five that would prove detrimental later in the game.

The Bulls bats came alive in the fourth, where Bethany Keen was able to get the scoring started with the help of a JU error. A harmless single would sail over the first baseman, pushing Alanah Rivera across home to give the Bulls a run. Two more runs scored by Keen and Jordyn Kadlub and the lead was trimmed to 8-3. In the fifth, an addition run was scored by AnaMarie Bruni to bring the lead to four for the Dolphins.

However, an absolute disaster happened in the top of the sixth, with JU scoring six runs to run-rule the Bulls. Three errors and three hit-by-pitches helped carry the Dolphins into the win column, including a grand slam after a routine ground ball allowed the bases to be loaded for Tampa Bay Native Kailey Harrigan to drive four RBIs home.

The Bulls bats would remain quiet in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a 14-4 victory for JU, dropping USF to a 1-3 start to the season. USF softball will welcome FAU to Tampa on February 27th and 28th for a three game series, including a double header on the 28th.

Men’s Golf Finishes 2-Under-Par at Seminole Intercollegiate For Sixth Place Finish

USF Men’s Golf faced top level competition, including five top-25 teams and #1 ranked Oklahoma, the Bulls were one of six teams to shoot under par in the tournament of 15 teams. The Bulls shot a three-round 862 to finish sixth at the tournament, with round one at 287 (-1), round two at 288 (E), and round three at 287 (-1). In all, they finished one stroke behind NC state, and finishing above #24 UNF and #25 Duke.

Sophomore Luke Gifford lead the Bulls, finishing tied 16th at two-under-par (72, 71, 71), and notched 40 pars, which was third most in the field. Behind him was #27 Albin Bergstrom who posted an even par at 70, 69, 77 to finish Tied 21st. Sam Nicholson finished +1, Run Youprayong slotted at +8, and Kyle Flexsenhar rounded out at +11.

Next for the Bulls will be the Valspar Invitational in Palm City on March 15th and 16th.

Women’s Tennis Knocks off Liberty 4-3

The women’s tennis team has struggled mightily to start the 2021 season, but the Bulls were able to put out the Liberty Flames on Sunday with a 4-3 win.

USF claimed the doubles point by winning on court one and three thanks to the duos of Amelie Boy/Evelyne Tiron and Grace Eland/Laura Pellicer winning their games.

Boy went on to win her singles match in straight sets (7-6, 6-1), while Alexandria Mjos (6-2, 6-1) swept her singles match.

Margriet Timmermans (6-2, 4-6, 6-1) clinched the win for the Bulls on court six to give USF their second straight win.

The Bulls face UNF on Wednesday at 2 p.m.