USF hosted two ranked teams this past week at War Memorial Gym. The Dons suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat against No. 8 San Diego on Saturday afternoon, and were swept 3-0 by No. 21 Brigham Young two days earlier. Following this week’s matches, USF dropped to 11-13 overall and 7-7 in the West Coast Conference (WCC), and are currently tied for fifth place.
The Dons did all they could to upset San Diego (21-3, 13-2 WCC), but fell just short of a win. Led by freshman outside hitter Katarina Pilepic’s 21 kills, USF managed to push the match to a full five sets but was not able to notch the victory in the end.
“Pilepic is a force for us when she is on and we have to use her the most we can,” Head Coach Gilad Doron told USFDons.com. “She stayed positive today and was really on. We needed one more player to step up but San Diego is an incredible team. We are pretty close and if we keep our minds together we’ll be able to beat some teams down the stretch.”
After dropping the first set 25-18, the Dons rallied to win the next two sets and took a 2-1 lead. In the pivotal fourth set, both teams were evenly matched and the score was held fairly close. However, after USF had built a 21-19 lead, the Toreros came back with five straight points and ultimately took the set 25-23.
In the final and deciding set, the Dons took an early 8-4 lead, putting themselves in position for a huge win. However, it was not meant to be, and San Diego pulled away to win the set 15-10 and clinch the victory. Along with Pilepic’s standout performance, junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik and senior outside hitter Malina Terrell added 17 and 12 kills respectively for the Dons.
USF faced BYU on Thursday with hopes of extending its four-game home winning streak. The Dons started out strong in the first set, keeping up with the WCC-leading Cougars early in the game until BYU (20-5, 13-2) went on multiple scoring runs. USF could not respond with points of their own and dropped the first set 25-20.
The second set followed a similar pattern, and going into the third set down 2-0, the Dons were in danger of losing to the Cougars in straight sets. BYU came back from the locker room after halftime extremely strong, and with the help of seven straight points, left USF with no chance of a comeback. The Cougars took the third set 25-8 and sat the Dons down in a 3-0 victory. In the defeat, San Francisco scored a team-high 11 kills from Pilepic along with 14 assists and 12 digs from senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh. USF looks to bounce back from a three-game losing streak when they meet up with the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 14.