Volleyball is back! Ospreys fall in season-opener to USF

Riley Platt, General Assignment Reporter

The 2021 volleyball season kicked off Friday afternoon as the Ospreys hosted the University of South Florida Bulls. Friday’s match was long-awaited, as it was the first time the Ospreys have seen action since November of 2019.  With the Bulls being a member of the American Athletic Conference, this was an excellent opportunity for the Ospreys to knock off a major conference team at home. 

The showdown would prove to be a very back and forth match, going right down to the wire.

Volleyball returned to action for their first matches since Nov. 16, 2019. COVID-19 delayed the start of their 2020 season.

The first set appeared hopeful for UNF, as the Ospreys jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. This lead wouldn’t last, as the Bulls came to play. The gap was no more than three points for either team throughout the remainder of the set. Some good serves allowed the Ospreys to pull out to a 24-22 lead. This would be capped off by a set-sealing kill by junior Solimar Cestero, giving UNF a 1-0 set advantage. 

This early lead would not last long, as USF took control in the second set. Once the Bulls secured an early lead of their own, the Ospreys just couldn’t get out in front. There were numerous ties, but USF was able to pull away and take the set 25-23, evening up the match at one set apiece.

The third set was where the Bulls took over. Despite striking first, the Ospreys struggled to hang in there. At one point, the Bulls were able to open up a six-point lead. This lead would grow yet more, as USF won the set 25-18, taking a 2-1 match lead.

While things weren’t looking great, the Ospreys would be able to turn things around. Despite an early 6-2 lead for USF, UNF would continue to fight. There was a noticeable shift in momentum, as the Ospreys secured an 8-7 lead. 

A substantial spike by sophomore Maddie Boyd epitomized the newfound energy that was surging through UNF Arena. The set score remained close, but UNF was able to secure a set win, evening the match at two games apiece.

With their backs against the wall, the Ospreys clawed their way back into contention. The fifth set started with an ace for the Ospreys. However, things wouldn’t continue to go as well for UNF, as the Bulls seized control of the final set. 

The Ospreys fought back, bringing the deficit down to just two points. This wouldn’t be enough, as the Bulls took the set win and the match win.

While the result wasn’t optimal for the Ospreys, it was a valiant effort. After the game, head coach Kristen Wright spoke with UNF’s Brock Borgeson regarding the match.

“Obviously, we don’t like the outcome,” Wright said. “I saw a lot of positive things that we’re going to choose to take away from this going against USF tomorrow. It’s a quick turnaround. You’ve got to be resilient, and you’ve got to stay positive. There were a lot of positives. We had a lot of unbelievable plays tonight.”

The Ospreys will have a chance to avenge the close loss tomorrow as they travel to Tampa to face the Bulls again. The game is slated to start at 4 PM. Follow along with Spinnaker for leading coverage of UNF volleyball.


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