The 2015 USF volleyball season is over for the Bulls as they ended the year at 11-21 (8-12 in the AAC) and 5-11 at home. The schedule was a challenging one and the young USF roster was forced to battle all year long.

After going 17-15 in her first two years, Coach Courtney Draper’s team went 14-18 last year and with a new look roster, there was optimism but also concern heading into this year. The schedule was tough with so many new faces and it was reflected during a 9-game losing streak that hurt them in the middle of the year. It was a tough year despite the great efforts across the board from the ladies.

Overall, the Bulls had 1508 kills (.199 hitting percentage) compared to 1562 kills against them (.230 hitting percentage against them). The Bulls were in a lot of matches, but just didn’t have enough firepower at times to get the wins. The Bulls totaled 628 kill errors (567 against them). The Bulls recorded 149 service aces (125 against them) but also committed 216 errors (200 against them). Again, the Bulls had the ability to hang in most of their matches, but lacked the firepower at times and the execution at others that led them to the losing season.

Now, let’s break it down and see how each player did.

#3 Denise Belcher – 6′ – Junior – Outside hitter – Apopka, FL (Apopka HS) (Florida)

Belcher joined the Bulls after a two years at Florida. In 89 sets, she finished second on the team with 251 kills (2.82 kills per set, .201 hitting percentage), 6 assists, 7 service aces (13 errors), 41 digs and 24 blocks. She was a key hitter for the Bulls at the net and will be a senior leader next year.

#2 Payton Brown – 5’6″ – Sophomore – Defensive specialist/libero – Houston, TX (Cypress Creek HS)

Brown played in 5 sets this season, recording a service ace (2 errors) in very limited playing time off the bench for the Bulls.

#7 Molly Burkhardt – 6′ – Freshman – Setter – St. Augustine, FL (Bishop Kenny HS)

Burkhardt put together a strong freshman year. She played in 81 sets, recording 59 kills, 443 assists (5.49 assists per set), 22 service aces (27 errors), 163 digs (2.01 digs per set) and 20 blocks. She is a promising young player that will be a key player heading into the next season at the center of the USF offense.

#8 Wylie Devlin – 5’7″ – Senior – Defensive specialist/libero – Winter Park, FL (Winter Park HS)

Devlin played in 115 sets this season, her final as a Bull. She recorded 2 kills, 41 assists, 9 service aces (6 errors), and 542 digs (4.71 digs per set). She finished her career playing in 439 sets, recording 1397 assists, and 1243 digs, ranking 6th all time in the USF record books.

Priscilla Ehieze 1859644

#23 Priscilla Ehieze – 5’10” – Sophomore – Outside hitter/Right side hitter – Houston, TX (Cinco Ranch HS)

Ehieze played in 71 sets this season, recording 126 kills (1.77 kills per set, .121 hitting percentage), with 23 digs and 32 blocks. She will be a key player next year in her maturation on the offense for this team.

#5 Aydson Goodnight – 5’11” – Sophomore – Outside hitter – Papillion, NB (Papillion La Vista South HS)

Goodnight played in 50 sets this year, recording 81 kills (1.62 kills per set), 4 assists, 23 digs, and 27 total blocks.

#11 Dakota Hampton – 6′ – Junior – Outside hitter – Orlando, Park IL (Carl Sandberg HS)

Entering the season, Hampton had just 394 kills and 496 digs. Well, she nearly matched those totals in one season as she became the star hitter for the Bulls. In 110 sets, she recorded a team leading 342 kills (3.11 kills per set, .188 hitting percentage), 48 assists, 29 service aces (24 errors), 347 digs (3.15 digs per set), and 29 blocks. Hampton was named 2nd team All Conference at the end of the season, marking her impressive campaign. She was the heart and best striker for the Bulls all season long and will be the same entering next season.

#16 Alexus Heidelberg – 5’9″ – Junior – Outside hitter/Right side hitter – Winter Garden, FL (West Orange HS)

Heidelberg played in 61 sets this season, recording 119 kills (1.95 kills per set, .178 hitting percentage) with 6 assists, 13 service aces (17 errors), 142 digs (2.33 digs per set) and 24 total blocks. I expect her to take on a bigger role in 2016.

#6 Joli Holland – 5’11” – Sophomore – Middle blocker – Dublin, CA (Dublin HS)

Holland played in 116 sets, recording 217 kills (1.87 kills per set, .333 hitting percentage led the team) and was second in kills, also adding 17 assists, 24 service aces (50 errors), 59 digs, and 91 total blocks. Her, along with Heidelberg, are huge parts of the veteran leadership of this team moving forward in 2016.

#33 Nikki Koval – 5’5″ – Freshman – Defensive specialist/libero – Louisville, KY (Mercy Academy)

Koval played in 100 sets this season, recording 33 assists, 2 service aces (11 errors) and 213 digs (2.13 digs per set). She is one of the young returning players for 2016 this team can build around heading into the next season.

#9 Bridgette Lococo – 6′ – Freshman – Middle blocker – Fort Collins, CO (Fossil Ridge HS)

Lococo played in 33 sets this year, her first as a Bull. She recorded 43 kills (.220 hitting percentage) with 2 digs and 17 blocks. She is a promising hitter for the Bulls and will be a key player moving forward into 2016.

#19 Alex Mendoza – 5’11” – Sophomore – Setter – Minneola, FL (Lake Minneola HS)

Mendoza played in 81 sets this season, recording 13 kills, 364 assists (4.49 assists per set), 103 digs (1.27 digs per set) and 5 total blocks. With her height, she will be a key player in 2016 for this roster.

#18 Olha “Olga” Morekhodova – 5’9″ – Senior – Setter – Key West, FL (Key West HS)

Morekhodova played in 16 sets in her final season at USF, recording 69 assists (4.31 assists per set) and 11 digs in limited playing time.

#15 Elyse Panick – 6’2″ – Junior – Right side hitter – Chicago, IL (Marist HS) (Marshall)

 Panick, in her first year, played in 68 sets, recording 106 kills (1.56 kills per set, .164 hitting percentage), 8 assists, 6 service aces (14 errors), 86 digs and 27 total blocks.

#1 Clara Payne – 6’2″ – Redshirt freshman – Middle blocker – Osteen, FL (Pine Ridge HS) (Virginia Tech)

In her first year at USF (coming from VT) played in 94 sets with 138 kills (1.47 kills per set, .195 hitting percentage) with 9 assists, 16 service aces (16 errors), with 45 digs and 93 total blocks.

#13 Natalia Soares – 5’7″ – Senior – Setter – Porte Alegre, Brazil (Colegio Farroupilha)

In her final year at USF, Soares played in 81 sets, recording 9 kills, 356 assists (4.40 assist per set), 11 service aces (15 errors) and 139 digs. In her career, she played in 427 sets, recording 706 digs and totaled 2293 assists, ranking 8th all time in program history.

#4 Amy Van Sant – 5’7″ – Junior – Defensive specialist/libero – Atlanta, GA (Lakeside HS)

Van Sant played in 28 sets this season, recording 8 assists and 30 digs in limited playing time.

2016 quick thoughts: 2015 was tough, but the 2016 looks promising for the Bulls. USF only graduates 3 seniors and has signed Claire Embry in the early signing period. If the roster stays together, the Bulls will have their top strikers (Hampton, Holland, and Belcher) along with other top players that will be key parts for this roster. The important part will be making sure no one leaves and core remains intact. If they can do that, 2016 should see better days ahead for this program.

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