USF Press Conference
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – No. 6 USF (17-13) defeated No. 3 Notre Dame (20-8) 3-1 in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship. The Bulls advanced to the semifinals and will face the winner of No. 2 Marquette (24-5) and No. 7 Pittsburgh (17-13) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT.
The Bulls’ win is their first ever in nine meetings against Notre Dame and Friday’s match also marks the first time the Fighting Irish have lost in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship. USF is 3-5 in tournament play and will return to the semifinal for the first time since 2009. Notre Dame is 31-9 all-time in the BIG EAST Championship.
Senior J’Beria Davis led the Bulls with 18 kills and hit .467. She also recorded 11 digs to complete the double-double. Joining her with a double-double was BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Erin Fairs who posted 12 kills and 14 digs. The freshman also added four blocks. Classmate Ciara Brown posted double-digit kills with 11 and two other freshmen, Natalia Soares and Wylie Devlin dished out 26 and 24 assists respectively.
Notre Dame was led by junior Andie Olsen. Olsen hit .619 with 14 kills on 21 attempts and just one error. Sophomore Jeni Houser, an All-BIG EAST First Team selection, posted 12 kills and junior Andrea McHugh added 11. All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, sophomore Maggie Brindock, recorded a match-high 44 assists and freshman Taylor Morey led the team defensively with 16 digs.
USF came out strong in the first set. They hit .448 as a team and only recorded one error in 29 attempts. Davis posted three kills on four attempts to lead the team and Devlin recorded eight of her 24 assists as the Bulls took an early 1-0 advantage with a 25-17 win in set one.
The roles were reversed in set two as Notre Dame hit .452 compared to the Bulls’ .206 attack percentage. Brindock dished out 12 assists and Olsen was a perfect four-for-four on kill opportunities. The Fighting Irish won 25-18 to tie the match at 1-1.
USF opened the third set on a kill from Davis and held a lead until an error by Notre Dame tied the match at 19-19. However, the Bulls went on to score six of the final 10 points to claim the set, 25-23 and go ahead 2-1 in the match.
After a service ace from Morey tied set four at 10-10, USF responded with a kill from junior Kayla Walton and never looked back. The Bulls pulled away and a kill from Fairs gave USF a 25-19 win to end the match and claim a 3-1 win.
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 16
Match 1: No. 4 Connecticut, 2 vs. No. 5 Cincinnati, 3 (25-17, 17-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8)
Match 2: No. 1 Louisville, 3 vs. No. 8 St. John’s, 0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-18)
Match 3: No. 3 Notre Dame, 1 vs. No. 6 USF, 3 (25-17, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19)
Match 4: No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh, 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 17
Match 5: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 5 Cincinnati, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT
Match 6: No. 6 USF vs. No. 2 Marquette/No. 7 Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 18
Match 7: Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT (LIVE – ESPNU)