Sept. 24, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (UCFAthletics.com) - The Canadian duo of Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ont.) and Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) combined for 13 blocks assists, but it was not enough as the UCF (7-7, 0-2 C-USA) volleyball team suffered a 3-0 (23-25, 26-28, 15-25) loss to Marshall (8-6, 2-0 C-USA) Friday night in Conference USA action at the Cam Henderson Center.
"The scores don't indicate it, but tonight was a much different night than last night," head coach Todd Dagenais said following the match. "The feeling was much different. There wasn't the tentativeness or the apprehension that I thought was there last night and that is the first step in us being able to break through these mental road blocks. Having that freedom to just be able to compete and not worry about the outcome will make the outcome what we want it to be."
As a team, the Knights posted a season-best 11.0 total blocks, with McCutcheon's seven block assists matching her career-high and Vukson's six block assists registering a new career-best for the junior. Vukson also had 22 assists, a service ace and two digs in the contest. Sara Rex (Oldsmar, Fla.) added three block assists for the Black and Gold and Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) contributed two.
"Blocking has been a huge emphasis of ours," Dagenais stated. "It is something that we take to heart that we haven't been a very good blocking team. We have always known that we have the size and the athletic ability to do better than that. And, again, I feel like that is another part of the game that we are starting to break through on. So, that is one of our stepping stones that we needed as we go forward with righting the ship."
Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) and Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) paced the UCF defense in the back court, tallying 15 and 13 kills, respectively, while Vilde added six and Dani Harrison (Tallahasee, Fla.) totaled five.
Offensively, Fisher and Vilde were relied on heavily, as the duo combined for 17 of the Knights' 25 kills against the Thundering Herd. Fisher led the UCF attack with nine kills and a service ace, while Vilde registered a .217 attack percentage with eight kills for the visiting squad.
"We still find ourselves in a position where we are looking for one or two hitters to step up so we can diversify our offense," Dagenais said. "That is going to be a big focal point next week. It is important that everybody has to compete for their positions. We are going to find the most consistent players and those are the ones that are going to play for us."
The Knights led the host Thundering Herd for 13 points in the opening half of the first set, but after an attack error the Black and Gold gave up the lead and were never able to regain it. The squad tied Marshall eight times, which included a 4-0 run to even the contest at 18-18, but the home team was able to stave off UCF just in time to close out the set.
In the second set, the Knights could not keep up with the Herd's double-threat of offense and defense early on, trailing by as many as seven points toward the end of the contest. UCF stormed back to even the set at 20-20, however, thanks to four blocks and a kill from McCutcheon and two kills from Vilde. From there, the Knights and the Herd tied six times before a kill and a service ace put Marshall up by two sets heading into the locker room.
"We really forced Marshall to have 20 kills in that second set," Dagenais said. "We forced them to play really well to beat us."
The two teams started the third set neck-and-neck before the Thundering Herd put together an impressive 20-10 run to conclude the set and the match.
The Knights are back in action next weekend when they travel to Houston for a match against the Cougars Friday, before returning home for their C-USA home-opener Sunday against Rice.
Season tickets are now available for purchase for only $30 online at UCFAthletics.com or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000. The Knights are set to host 13 regular-season matches at The Venue at UCF this season, which includes 10 Conference USA contests.