July 2, 2012
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By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The start of the 2012 UCF volleyball season is less than two months away, and what better time to look back at some of the defining moments from the 2011 season.
The Knights had plenty to celebrate in their record-breaking campaign that saw them win 20 matches for the first time since 2003 and notch a program-best 12 wins in Conference USA. Over the next five weeks, we will be counting down the top-five moments from the 2011 season leading up to the Knights' 2012 opener against Creighton in the USF Invitational on Aug. 24.
Setting the Stage
On the heels of five-consecutive wins in the early portion of its non-conference schedule, UCF took to the floor for its second match of the day in the Residence Inn/UCF Invitational. It was not your ordinary contest as the Knights were hosting BIG EAST foe Pittsburgh in Volleybowl IV.
A rowdy crowd of 891 fans packed The Venue and made for a tough environment for the Panthers. Just after 7 p.m., the Knights began their quest to even up their all-time record in Volleybowls at 2-2 in the first matchup all-time with Pitt.
The Knights came out firing in the first set behind outside hitters Angelica Crump and Kayla Keller. The duo combined to hit better than .500 with 10 total kills, and finished the night with 13 and nine, respectively. UCF's stifling defense limited Pitt to a .079 attack percentage in the first frame.
The rowdy fans inside The Venue helped the Knights close out the second set after the Panthers came within three points of the home team. Two late errors by Pitt gave UCF the second frame as the squad swatted .342 and landed 18 kills.
UCF closed out the Panthers in the third set by holding them to only 13 points and a .029 hitting percentage. Junior Evija Vilde tallied five kills in the frame and finished the night with 11.
After the damage had been done, the squad nearly hit .300 (.297), totaled 41 kills on 39 assists and out dug Pitt, 53-36, in the sweep. Much of the Knights' success in the match came off of the serve as the team totaled seven service aces and had four players with service runs of four points or more.
Since head coach Todd Dagenais took over the program in 2008, he has always brought in a formidable opponent for Volleybowl. The much-anticipated matchups draw in plenty of fans, including droves of students, which Dagenais hopes will spark continued attendance and support.
"We do these Volleybowls to expose more people to volleyball and hopefully these people will come back and say `Hey you know what? That was kind of cool,'" said Dagenais. "We are trying to get some of these students exposed to the game so that we can build up this student section. Those who have never been to a match are missing out because it is where the action is."