VB : Syracuse outplayed by South Florida defense in Big East opener

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Valerie El Houssine’s cross-court spike looked like the kind of shot Syracuse libero Ashley Williams routinely dug out during many of SU’s games this season.But the perfectly placed spike — one of 10 kills in the third set alone by the South Florida freshman El Houssine — fell just beyond the diving dig attempt by Williams and demonstrated what went wrong for Syracuse against the five-win Bulls.Everything Syracuse did, USF did better.‘They took some of the things we do well and threw it right back at us,’ SU assistant coach Kelly Morrisroe said. ‘We just didn’t have an answer.’Syracuse couldn’t respond to USF’s similar game plan centered on playing tough defense. USF used its size and athleticism on defense to neutralize SU’s perimeter attack in the Bulls’ five-set victory on Friday night. USF middle blockers Andrea Rodriguez Gomez and Caitlyn Breen were thorns in the side of the Syracuse attack, deflecting SU shot attempts and setting up the Bulls’ counterattack.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSet up by the defense, the Bulls offense ran smoothly through their outside hitters, El Houssine and Delaney Bell. Four South Florida players had double-digit dig totals in the five-set match.Sophomore middle blocker Lindsay McCabe said Houssine’s 30 digs helped USF turn momentum in its favor.‘(El Houssine) was all over,’ McCabe said. ‘She was really tough to match up with.’The USF blocking game prevented many attempts from even getting to the back line of the defense. The Bulls, second behind Syracuse in blocks per set in the Big East, looked like the better blocking team when they found their comfort zone in the second half of the game. Even though USF blocked 10 fewer shots than SU, its 12 blocks seemed to come during the match’s most pivotal moments.As it did in nonconference losses against Utah State and Dayton, size and blocking ability gave the Syracuse attack fits. Outside hitters Noemie Lefebvre and Nicolette Serratore had kill attempts repeatedly blocked in the third, fourth and deciding fifth sets.Fellow outside hitter Andrea Fisher said the speed of USF’s defense changed the nature of the game after SU jumped out to an early two-set lead.‘It was tough to try and hit around them,’ Fisher said.USF turned the two-set deficit into a win by hitting around Syracuse’s block attempts.In the third set, middle blockers McCabe and Samantha Hinz pounced at the net to deflect a shot by USF middle blocker Breen. Serratore joined them, and when Breen saw all three players jump without much defensive help behind, she placed a drop shot over them.The shot was too accurate to be saved by a diving Williams.Hinz said it was like USF players could anticipate SU’s next move.‘They knew how to counter our block,’ Hinz said. ‘It was so frustrating.’USF head coach Claire Lessinger said countering the SU blocking game was key in her team’s upset road victory.‘Syracuse is a blocking machine, and we had to play around their strengths,’ Lessinger said. ‘With a defense like that on the court, you’ll take any points you can get.’Morrisroe said that she’s expecting SU opponents to play around the SU blocking game more this season, as USF did. The Bulls were well prepared for SU’s defensive approach, and the Orange couldn’t adjust in time to prevent the USF comeback.It’s something SU will have to adapt to compete in Big East play.‘The accolades are great, but now teams know we’re one of the top teams in college volleyball at blocking,’ Morrisroe said. ‘And they plan for that.’nctoney@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Published on September 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Nick: nctoney@syr.edu | @nicktoneytweetslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *