Coming into tonight, the South Florida volleyball team had one mission. Win and stay alive in the hunt for a Big East tournament spot.

Mission accomplished.

Behind an electric crowd at The Corral,USF  defeated the Seton Hall Pirates (14-14, 6-7) in five sets, and jumped into the 8th spot in the Big East standings. The top eight in the conference make the tournament.

“I told the girls in the locker room that this was a fun match,” USF coach Claire Lessinger said. “Tonight was definitely a team win, and they believed in themselves.”

The Bulls (16-12, 6-7) defeated the Pirates 23-25, 30-28, 25-21, 22-25 and 15-8.

Junior outside hitter Marcela Gurgel led the Bulls with 25 kills, 12 digs, and six aces. Gurgel said the win was crucial.

“This match was really exciting,” Gurgel said. “I’m so proud of my teammates. They gave it their all tonight.”

Junior middle-blocker Alli Arbogast, one of Gurgel’s teammates, recorded her first double-double with 13 kills and 12 blocks.

“We knew that we had to win this match in order to go to the tournament,” Arbogast said. “We worked well tonight, and played the kind of volleyball we’ve been striving for all season.”

The Bulls will try to reach their season goal, the Big East tournament, on Sunday when they play Villanova at 2:00 p.m. at the Corral.

If they win, then they’re in.


– Will McLaughlin