Volleyball: Dons Dealt Losses By WCC Powerhouses San Diego and Brigham Young

USF hosted two ranked teams this past week at War Memorial Gym. The Dons suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat against No. 8 San Diego on Saturday afternoon, and were swept 3-0 by No. 21 Brigham Young two days earlier. Following this week’s matches, USF dropped to 11-13 overall and 7-7 in the West Coast Conference (WCC), and are currently tied for fifth place.

The Dons did all they could to upset San Diego (21-3, 13-2 WCC), but fell just short of a win. Led by freshman outside hitter Katarina Pilepic’s 21 kills, USF managed to push the match to a full five sets but was not able to notch the victory in the end.

“Pilepic is a force for us when she is on and we have to use her the most we can,” Head Coach Gilad Doron told USFDons.com. “She stayed positive today and was really on. We needed one more player to step up but San Diego is an incredible team. We are pretty close and if we keep our minds together we’ll be able to beat some teams down the stretch.”

After dropping the first set 25-18, the Dons rallied to win the next two sets and took a 2-1 lead.  In the pivotal fourth set, both teams were evenly matched and the score was held fairly close. However, after USF had built a 21-19 lead, the Toreros came back with five straight points and ultimately took the set 25-23.

In the final and deciding set, the Dons took an early 8-4 lead, putting themselves in position for a huge win. However, it was not meant to be, and San Diego pulled away to win the set 15-10 and clinch the victory. Along with Pilepic’s standout performance, junior middle blocker Valentina Zaloznik and senior outside hitter Malina Terrell added 17 and 12 kills respectively for the Dons.

USF faced BYU on Thursday with hopes of extending its four-game home winning streak. The Dons started out strong in the first set, keeping up with the WCC-leading Cougars early in the game until BYU (20-5, 13-2) went on multiple scoring runs. USF could not respond with points of their own and dropped the first set 25-20.

The second set followed a similar pattern, and going into the third set down 2-0, the Dons were in danger of losing to the Cougars in straight sets. BYU came back from the locker room after halftime extremely strong, and with the help of seven straight points, left USF with no chance of a comeback. The Cougars took the third set 25-8 and sat the Dons down in a 3-0 victory. In the defeat, San Francisco scored a team-high 11 kills from Pilepic along with 14 assists and 12 digs from senior setter Mackenzie Murtagh. USF looks to bounce back from a three-game losing streak when they meet up with the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. on Thursday, Nov. 14.

Men’s Basketball: Dons Blowout Notre Dame de Namur Behind 19 Points From Kruize Pinkins

The Dons jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, dominating the Notre Dame de Namur Argonauts of Belmont, Calif. 95-57 in their first game of the season on Friday night at War Memorial Gym.

Junior forward Kruize Pinkins, a transfer from Chipola College, provided instant offense off the bench, scoring a team-high 19 points in his first game as a Don. Junior guard Corey Hilliard, who came to USF this year from Midland College, also impressed in his debut with eight points and four rebounds. Senior forward Cole Dickerson and sophomore forward Mark Tollefsen both pitched in 15 points for the Dons, and junior guard Matt Glover added 12.

Taking the court for the first time since a 73-68 victory against Northern Kentucky on March 14, 2013, USF made a statement by pouncing on NDNU and destroying their hopes of a close game within the first few minutes. Backed by the usual pack of rowdy fans, the sharpshooting Dons built a 10-point lead less than four minutes into the contest. Keeping their foot on the pedal, they went into halftime with a commanding 61-25 advantage, bolstered by their impressive three-point shooting accuracy. The Dons shot 11-19 from beyond the arc in the first half, and 54 percent from the field overall.

“I thought we came out and played real hard in the first half,” Head Coach Rex Walters told USFDons.com. “We were making a lot of shots and forced some turnovers.”

Perhaps getting comfortable with their large cushion, USF came out flat-footed in he second half. The shots weren’t falling and the offense wasn’t clicking, and with 14:53 left the Argonauts had cut the lead to 65-41. The Dons regained focus,

responding with a 16-2 run to push the score to 81-43 and dismiss Notre Dame de Namur’s comeback attempt. The final touch on the victory came with 4:49 left, when Glover tossed a fancy alley-oop pass that Tollefsen threw down with authority to put the Dons up 91-48.

While San Francisco won the game going away, their effort in the final 20 minutes paled in comparison to their crisp play in the first half. The Dons shot just 2-13 from downtown in the second half, along with 13-32 from the field. They also eased up on the defensive end, allowing NDNU to connect on 11 of their 19 field goal attempts. Although USF struggled on both ends of the floor after halftime, they still forced 24 Argonaut turnovers for the game, while only committing 10 of their own.

“I didn’t really like our effort in the second half. We did a lot of good things tonight, though,” Walters told USFDons.com.

There were many positive takeaways from the Dons’ convincing 38-point win, but the two most encouraging signs may have been the performances by Pinkins and Hilliard. The two newcomers showed no signs of jitters in their first game in green-and-gold uniforms, combining for 27 points and making highlight-reel plays that brought the fans to their feet. If the duo of transfers can become consistent options for USF this season, their contributions could be what pushes the team over the hump.

According to predictions from six members of the cbssports.com staff, USF is projected to finish as high as third in the West Coast Conference (WCC) this season, and no lower than seventh. If the Dons can continue to force turnovers, move the ball on offense, and knock down their three-pointers when facing conference opponents,

they should be able to challenge the likes of WCC rivals Gonzaga, Brigham Young, and Saint Mary’s.

The score of USF’s home game against Cleveland State on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. was not available at press time. The squad will now begin to prepare for its matchup with the University of Nevada, Reno, which will come to War Memorial Gym to take on the Dons on Friday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.

Women’s Basketball: Rachel Howard and Taj Winston Lead Dons to Victory over Columbia

The Dons outscored the Columbia Lions 83-69 on Sunday, Nov. 10, at the Big Apple Bonanza Tournament in New York, N.Y. after suffering an 80-66 loss to the Fordham Rams in their opening game of the season on Friday.

Against Columbia, San Francisco played a grueling game that included 56 fouls, riddling the game with clock stoppages. There was little rhythm to the game, but the Dons were able to capture the victory thanks to the play of freshman guard Rachel Howard and junior guard Taj Winston. They scored 18 and 17 points, respectively.

Howard opened the game by scoring on a long three-pointer, and from there the contest remained a back and forth battle until the end of the first half. Winston, taking advantage of the closely called game by the refs, scored six points in a row from the free throw line, giving the Dons a 34-30 lead. San Francisco ended the first half with a slim 37-34 lead.

“We went to the locker room and Coach Azzi told us that we needed to pick it up, everyone had to be mentally present and that we needed to come out here and do what

we needed to do to get the win” Winston told USFDons.com.

Just as she did in the beginning of the game, Howard opened the second half  with a three-pointer in the first minute. However, this time the Dons continued to pick up the pace, putting Columbia away.

A basket by junior guard Aundrea Gordon marked the beginning of the run that separated the Dons from Columbia. Gordon received the ball on an inbounds play and scored a difficult shot after getting fouled by a Lion. She converted her three-point play at the foul line, kicking off a 7-0 run for San Francisco.

USF shined in the second half, shooting 47.5 percent from the field to score a total of 83 points and earn their first win of the young season.

The Dons were coming off of a loss in their opening game of the season in which they struggled to score baskets, losing to the Fordham Rams 80-66. Fordham’s stellar

shooting was unmatched by San Francisco, despite the offensive effort from Winston and Howard, who combined to score 35 points, over half of the Dons’ total scoring.

Fordham shot 45 percent from the three-point line and out-rebounded the Dons 44-32. Although the Rams controlled the game throughout, San Francisco would not go down easily, and ended the first half trailing by a manageable nine points. However, the

second half mirrored the first half with the Rams again shooting a high percentage from behind the three-point line, allowing them to extend their lead.

The Rams, who were 26-9 last year and are predicted to finish third in the Atlantic-10 Conference for the 2013-14 season, were a difficult first matchup for USF.

The score of San Francisco’s home exhibition game against Dominican University on Wednesday, Nov. 13 was not available at press time. The Dons now prepare to face Long Beach State on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2:00 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.

Men’s Soccer: Liam Kelly Scores on Senior Day in 2-1 Loss to Santa Clara

Seven Dons seniors played their final match at Negoesco Stadium on Sunday, a 2-1 loss to the Santa Clara Broncos. Senior forwards Liam Kelly, Tanner Smith, Michael Shaddock, Brady Jimison and midfielders Gerry Vera, Vegard Karlsen and Mauricio Diaz De Leon were honored before the game with flowers and an announcement of their accomplishments. Team captain Diaz De Leon, who was an All-West Coast Conference (WCC) First Team honoree in 2012, an All-WCC Honorable Mention in 2011 and a WCC All-Freshman Team honoree in 2010, was accompanied by USF president Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J. as he received his senior bouquet.

“I’m proud of our guys. The seniors played well,” Head Coach Erik Visser told USFDons.com.

Kelly scored his second goal of the season about 12 minutes into his final match, chipping the ball into the net from about five feet away off a pass from freshman defender Christian De Luna. The Dons would keep the 1-0 lead for just a few minutes — Santa Clara tied the game in the 16th minute when Michael Gates snuck the ball past USF goalkeeper redshirt freshman Connor Gaal immediately after entering the game from the bench.

In the 23rd minute Diaz de Leon nearly regained the lead for the Dons on a corner kick that rebounded into a shot opportunity, but his shot was saved by Bronco goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.

The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, after which both teams ramped up the energy in their quest for the lead. A shot in the 63rd minute by sophomore defender Joshua Smith

looked like a goal for the Dons, but the ball was determined to have just missed crossing the line into the net. A couple minutes later Santa Clara scored a clear goal on a penalty kick into the top of the net by Mark Daus after a foul was called on the Dons’ redshirt sophomore defender Kevin Gould.

“It comes down to details and the second half we had one or two really good looks at the goal,” Visser said. “I thought maybe one was a goal, and really out of nowhere we gave them an opportunity on a penalty kick and they took advantage of it.”

One more shot on goal by Kelley in the 82nd minute turned out to be the Dons’ last attempt to tie it up before time ran out. McIntosh was able to get in front of the shot, securing the win for the Broncos.

“It was a game that we definitely deserved to win but in the big picture it comes down to a couple of mental mistakes here and there,” Visser said. “I give Santa Clara a lot of credit coming here. They did what they had to do to win.”The Dons will face Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. They will finish out their season in Portland, Ore. against the University of Portland Pilots on Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. in the WCC Game of the Week.

From Cycling to Contemporary Dance, More Than 350 Students Involved in Club Sports at USF

When Robert Azcarate-Bascherini took over as Club Sports Director for USF in January 2013, there were nine sports clubs on campus. Now there are 26, with over 350 total participants. The Competitive Sports Club program has focused on allowing students to create and facilitate clubs with minimal restrictions, making it possible for students with any type of athletic interests to start a club of their own.

“The growth has been astronomical [with this approach],” Azcarate-Bascherini said. There are currently nine clubs that have either begun this semester or are in the works for the future.

The most successful new club has been the Contemporary Dance Club, which already boasts 47 members. Known as Vitality Dance SF, the student-led group meets each Thursday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Aerobics Room at Koret Center. Sophomore Megan Marabella, the founder and president of Vitality Dance SF, came to USF as a freshman “with a very strong passion and love for dance,” and after deciding that the school’s dance program wasn’t for her, she took matters into her own hands.

“The style practiced (by the USF Dance Program) is something I am not familiar with,” Marabella said. “So, by the time second semester rolled around I had been missing dance so much that I came up with the idea to start my own contemporary dance club.”

Marabella has been dancing for 17 years, and her styles of dance range from ballet and jazz to hip-hop and lyrical. Her versatility seems to be paying dividends, as students have flocked to the club and expressed a desire to learn more about contemporary dance.

“The dancers in the club seem to be loving it, and I have had a handful of them personally thank me because they too missed dancing like (I did),” Marabella said.

Vitality Dance SF serves as a model for students looking to start a sports club and build a strong following. Marabella has encouraging words for students who want to create their own club, but cautions them not to go into it alone.

“My advice is to make sure you have a group of a few people who will help you,” Marabella said. “There’s so much to do and especially being a student it would be too stressful to do it on your own…it’s a ton of work, but it is worth it.”

Among other new clubs is the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club. The club has attracted students looking to improve their martial arts and self-defense techniques, and it currently has about 15 members. Right now, members are busy preparing to compete in the Bay Area Jiu-Jitsu Championships, which will take place on Nov. 24 in Alameda, Calif.

The Lacrosse Club is another sports club that began in the Fall 2013 semester. A study done by the Sporting Good Manufactures Association revealed that, as of 2011,

Lacrosse’s popularity had grown by a whopping 218.1 percent in the past 10 years, so it was only matter of time before it became a club sport at USF. There are already 20 people showing up for practices, and the next step is to implement set practice times play competitive games with other schools. Azcarate-Bascherini is focused on providing financial support for Lacrosse, and he hopes that the group will be able to play in a league next year.

Other new additions include the Cycling Club and the Capoeira Club, both of which have been met with positive student reactions. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art

that includes dancing, acrobatics and music, and just like the Contemporary Dance and Lacrosse Clubs, it was started by students who approached Azcarate-Bascherini with their idea. Not all begin this way, but Azcarate-Bascherini wants to make it easy for students to form ideas for clubs on their own. To achieve this, he only requires there to be four interested people in order to get a club going, and each of these founding

members must assume one of four roles: president, vice president, treasurer, and equipment manager. After these positions are established, the students must spread the word and find more people to continue the club.

Along with the many clubs that were initiated this semester, the Competitive Sports Club program is making an effort to add new sports in the near future. Among the clubs currently under development are the Triathlon Club and the Sailing Club, and depending on the level of student interest, they may be in full swing by early spring semester. Also, the Basketball Club is working to enter a competitive league with teams from other schools, but for now the team competes in the Men’s Basketball Undergraduate Intramural League under the name USF Dons Club.

Interestingly, Azcarate-Bascherini believes that there is a correlation between club involvement and a school’s retention rate. He reasons that participating in club sports gives students an incentive to return because of the strong relationships they create.

“[Students] belong to a group, instead of just going to a school,” Azcarate-Bascherini said.The fact that the amount of clubs has nearly tripled in the past year is an indication that more and more students are having positive experiences with club sports at USF.

Music: An Evening With Cayucas

I took an unexpected visit home last Thursday to see one of my favorite bands — Cayucas — perform at HUM Music and Sound Design, a music company where I intern. HUM is a music house in Santa Monica that composes original music for commercials and movies. It also manages the record label, Nonchalant Records.

With a simple layout that contains client space as well as a bar, HUM turned into a venue that attracted a crowd that consisted of about 150 people from the music industry and the advertising world, as well as all of my co-workers at HUM. Additionally, appetizers were being served by the Grilled Cheese Truck. What better way to enjoy music than with good food and good company?

Cayucas is an indie-pop band from Santa Monica with a “beachy” sound. In fact, the band lived just a couple of blocks away from the HUM office. With only 150 people in the room, the show felt very intimate. I was able to get a great view of the band by standing at the edge of the small stage. Cayucas’ sound was incredible, with catchy and upbeat guitar riffs and strong and smooth vocals.

I saw Cayucas at Treasure Island Music Festival a couple of weeks ago, but nothing compared to seeing the group ten feet away from me. Opening with hit song “Cayucos,” the show started with high energy. It got the whole room moving, including industry executives. A lot of Cayucas’ songs have an enjoyable and extremely catchy “tropical pop” sound. There was not one song that I disliked, though I recommend checking out “Cayucos,” “Deep Sea,” and “High School Lover”, all off of the album “Bigfoot.” It was only a 25-minute set which left us wanting more. Being able to see Cayucas in such a private setting really gave me a chance to enjoy the music without the distraction of thousands of people dancing around me.

To listen to more Cayucas, check out the album “Bigfoot,” which is available now. I would also suggest checking out the music videos for “Cayucos” and “East Coast Girl.”