Oct. 3, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Redshirt freshman Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) had a breakout performance Sunday afternoon in UCF (7-9, 0-4 C-USA) volleyball's Conference USA home-opener vs. Rice (9-8, 4-1 C-USA), matching her career-high with 13 kills and posting a career-best eight blocks, but it was not enough as the Knights fell to the Owls, 3-1 (11-25, 20-25, 25-23, 24-26), at The Venue at UCF.
"I thought that one of the highlights of the whole match today was the play of Angelica," head coach Todd Dagenais said following the match. "We have been waiting for her to play like that for about six or seven weeks now and hopefully this is the breakthrough we have been waiting for on her. She is starting to come out of her shell and is starting to be that dominating attacker that we knew she could be."
Crump totaled five block solos and three block assists in the contest to pace the Black and Gold defense, while junior Sara Rex (Oldsmar, Fla.) added five blocks. As a team, UCF posted 13.0 total blocks, its best total of the season.
"Blocking is something that we have been working so hard on over the last two weeks because we were dreadful at blocking before and it had cost us some matches," Dagenais said. "I feel like in the last few matches we are really picking it up on the blocking end and it is allowing us more opportunities to score in transition.
Junior Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) once again led the offense with 16 kills and a service ace. Also contributing to UCF's offensive attack were Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) and Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ont.), who each tallied six kills against the Owls.
"We are still trying to find ways to score points," Dagenais said. "Obviously, not having Evija (Vilde) in the lineup today hurt our ability to score points, but I thought that Nichole did such a nice job of going in there and helping us to find a way to score those points. She took 18 solid swings. The nice thing about having Nichole in the lineup is that we can still disguise her and have her hit some middles sometimes and if she is going to be in the lineup for a while then we are going to have to find other ways to use her to help her get the ball and score."
Setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) not only guided the offense with 41 assists, but she also posted a career-best four kills and three blocks.
"Overall, I thought that Rachel did a really nice job of setting the offense," Dagenais said. "I thought we sputtered in some areas and she found ways around that."
After dropping the first two sets to the Owls, UCF made adjustments on their side of the court during intermission and came out of the locker room determined to make a comeback. Despite trailing by as many as five points early in the set, Crump led the Knights on a 9-4 run with two kills and two blocks to even the score at 11-11. The two teams would even the score six more times after that point, with the last coming at 22-22. A block by Vukson and Rex gave the Black and Gold a one-point advantage, before a pair of Rice miscues gave the Knights the third-set victory and sent the match into a fourth set.
UCF posted it highest attack percentage of the contest in the fourth set, hitting .323 with 15 kills, but the Owls were able to squeeze by the home team after posting a .36 1 hitting percentage with 18 kills to win the match.
"We came into this match and said that the three things that we have control over are our attitude, our energy and our effort and we said that was going to have to be a huge part of our ability to beat a good team like Rice and I was very happy with all three of those," Dagenais said after the match. "I thought that we showed the energy for sure. I thought the effort was really high, probably the highest effort that we have put in all year, and the attitude was great. We put ourselves in a position to compete with a good team today.
"I give Rice a lot of credit. They were very well prepared for this match. They knew exactly what our weaknesses were and they went after them. I also give them a lot of credit for being able to execute their game plan. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and methodically went about it. But, I thought that we provided a lot of resistance to a lot of the things that maybe they wanted to do."
The Knights return to action next weekend when they host East Carolina in a two-match C-USA series Saturday and Sunday. Each of the contests are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at The Venue at UCF. The Black and Gold is looking to pack the house Saturday night against the Pirates for VolleyBowl III.
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.