Big East Volleyball opens up this week as USF coach Claire Lessinger and the Bulls head north to play their first two league games on the road.  Rutgers (6-7) will host the Bulls on Saturday at 2 p.m., and Seton Hall (6-9) will be the home team for Sunday’s match at 1 p.m.

The Bulls head into the weekend at 7-3 coming off of a 1-1 showing at the Holiday Inn Charleston Riverside Classic in Charleston, South Carolina last weekend. 

Preseason Big East Player of the Year Marcela Gurgel leads USF with 3.66 kills-per-set.  Alli Arbogast has an elbow injury that has kept her sidelined for the last 3 matches.  Kelsey Palmer has taken Arbogast’s spot in the rotation and has contributed just less than 1 block-per-set. 

This will be the first taste of Big East action for transfers Pamela Luiz and Janice Rivera.  Rivera played in the Big South last season for Winthrop University, while Luiz played in the Big 10 for the University of Minnesota.  Luiz is 3rd on the team with 74 kills on the season.  Rivera has stepped into the shoes vacated by last year’s libero Stephanie Augustavo and has accumulated 124 digs and 5 service aces on the season. 

Last season, Gurgel tied for a team-high 11 kills against Rutgers in a straight-sets victory at home in The Corral.  Rutgers last beat the Bulls in October of 2005, a season in which USF went 3-21 overall and only 1-13 in Big East play. 

Last season’s match against Seton Hall was a five-set thriller that the Bulls eventually won.  USF needed the win to stay in contention for a Big East Tournament berth.  Marcela Gurgel outdueled Seton Hall’s Sarah Osmun to claim a match high 25 kills.  Osmun finished with 23.

-Mike Manganello