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South Florida Drops Lady Flames in Four Games
South Florida outside hitter Marcela Gurgel led all players in both kills and digs, tallying 17 of each during her team's 3-1 victory over Liberty in the opening match of the Wright State Raider Challenge, Friday afternoon at C.J. McLin Gymnasium.
South Florida, of the Big East Conference, captured its third-straight victory, making the Bulls 3-1 to start the season. Meanwhile, the Lady Flames lost for the fourth time in five matches to fall below the .500 mark for the first time this season, at 3-4.
The Lady Flames and Bulls went back-and-forth through the early stages of game one. South Florida owned a slim, 11-10 advantage, before embarking upon a 9-3 run. Gurgel contributed two kills to the Bulls' surge, which put USF in control for the remainder of the game. South Florida went on to claim a 30-24 victory.
Gurgel tallied seven kills during the opening game, matching the total of the entire Liberty team. South Florida limited the Lady Flames to seven kills and a .028 attack percentage during the first game of the tournament.
Liberty regrouped in the second game, boosting its attack percentage to .222 and doubling its total number of kills. Redshirt junior Jessica Nelson (OH, Tokyo, Japan) notched a pair of kills during a 9-2 Liberty run, which put the Lady Flames on top for good at 16-11. Alysson Sanders (R-Jr., OH, Bear, Del.), making her first start of the season, in place of the injured Karyl Bacon (Fr., DS/OH, Temecula, Calif.), excelled in game two. Sanders, one-half of the Lady Flames' sister duo, contributed a team-best five kills and a service ace to Liberty's 30-23 triumph.
Entering the third game with the match even at one game apiece for the fifth-straight time this season, Liberty continued its strong play at the game's outset. A South Florida attack error put the Lady Flames up by a 6-3 count. The Bulls responded with a 10-4 surge, including five-consecutive points on Stephanie Augustavo's serve. Augustavo served for two of USF's 10 aces during the burst, which left her team on top, 13-10.
Another extended serving run, this one by the Bulls' Brittany Castelamare, gave South Florida some breathing room. Castelamare's seven-straight points pushed the lead to 25-15. USF went on to claim a 30-23 victory in game three, despite five kills from the Lady Flames' Ashley Webber (Jr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) during the stanza.
One last serving run proved to be Liberty's undoing in game four as well. Mariana Thon served up half a dozen points, increasing USF's lead to 15-8, and the Lady Flames could not get any closer than three points down the rest of the way. South Florida took game four and the match, 30-25.
Nelson's fourth double-double of the season featured Liberty team highs in kills (13), digs (16) and blocks (3). Sanders (season-high 12 kills) and Webber (11 kills) both reached double-figures in kills as well.
Kallie Corbin (So., S, Beaverton, Ore.) recorded 32 assists, 15 digs, four kills and a pair of service aces. Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Nicki Scripko (Fr., OH/RS, Fayetteville, N.C.) added a dozen digs apiece, with Scripko also contributing a career-high seven assists.
Alli Arbogast and Allie Boaz joined Gurgel with double-digit kills for USF, finishing with 10 each. Arbogast and Nakia Williams both posted five blocks, helping the Bulls total 10.5 on the evening.
Liberty will play a pair of matches on Saturday, when the Wright State Raider Challenge continues at the C.J. McLin Gymnasium. The Lady Flames will tangle with host Wright State at noon and will wrap up their weekend with a 5 p.m. match versus The Citadel.