VB : SU looks to find comfort zone at home after 3 weeks on road

first_img Published on September 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nicktoneytweets Facebook Twitter Google+ It didn’t take then-freshman middle blocker Lindsay McCabe long to realize why South Florida calls its home court ‘The Corral.’‘They (USF) had a wild and crazy crowd,’ McCabe said. ‘(They had) cheerleaders, the Bull mascot and everything else when we played in Tampa last year. It was a big home-court advantage for them, no doubt.’Syracuse (9-4) lost that away game in five sets last season. But in 2011, the team hopes for its own home-court advantage in a game against the Bulls (4-8) that kicks off conference play in the Big East. And it is hoped it will be enough of an energy boost to snap the team out of its funk of inconsistent, early-season play.The Orange and South Florida face off on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Women’s Building.SU assistant coach Kelly Morrisroe said the Orange could use a shot in the arm after experiencing the ups and downs of nonconference play, especially since the team is one year removed from a 17-0 start to the season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘A home match (against USF) couldn’t have come at a better time,’ Morrisroe said. ‘After three weekends of traveling to tournaments, we needed to get back in our comfort zone.’SU has yet to find that on-court comfort zone despite winning two nonconference tournaments — the Big Orange Tournament and the Blackbird Invitational. The team hangs its hat on defense, leading the nation in blocks per match.But at times, the Orange offense has sputtered, and that’s why the team is unable to keep pace in certain games. Opponents with similar or better size at the net and comparable defensive skills also gave SU trouble.Last weekend, SU lost to two such teams. Dayton, a team that would go on to win last weekend’s tournament and now sits just outside the NCAA Top 25, swept the Orange in three sets. The nationally ranked SU defense registered only one block against the vaunted Flyers attack, and it couldn’t stop a streak of four straight service aces by Atlantic-10 Player of the Week Rachel Krabacher.An upset loss to tournament host Buffalo in five sets provided another case study for SU’s inconsistency in nonconference play. The Orange had to fight off two match points by the Bisons to force a fifth and deciding set. When SU seemed to seize the match’s momentum, Buffalo surged ahead with a 7-2 run to open the last set and ultimately take the game.‘Dayton was a good test because they were so good, but we never really played our game the way we could all tournament,’ said freshman outside hitter Andrea Fisher.‘I don’t know what happened with Buffalo. I wasn’t expecting a loss there,’ Morrisroe added.For that reason, and many others, Morrisroe said USF shouldn’t be overlooked. Despite their 4-8 record, the Bulls have four players at or taller than 6 feet on the roster —kryptonite for the SU team this year.The Bulls also ended SU’s winning streak last season at 17 with a five-set victory in front of the raucous home crowd in Tampa.Before that loss, McCabe said, SU couldn’t fix its on-court issues. They were winning and everything seemed to be working.‘The difference this year is that we know what we have to work on,’ said McCabe. ‘I couldn’t be more excited to play teams from the Big East and prove last year wasn’t a fluke.’Syracuse squandered its school record 17-1 start last season, failing to reach the NCAA tournament by season’s end.But Fisher wasn’t a part of that team last season. And she says she can’t wait to play with this year’s battle-tested team.‘We’ve played better opponents earlier in our schedule, so we think we know where we stand,’ Fisher said. ‘Getting the first Big East win over would be great.’[email protected]center_img Commentslast_img read more