Oct. 15, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (UCFAthletics.com) - Juniors Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) and Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) each posted double-doubles as the UCF (9-10, 2-5 C-USA) volleyball team succumbed to host Southern Miss (9-9, 2-5 C-USA) in a five-set heartbreaker, 3-2 (19-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-19, 12-15), Friday night in Conference USA action at Reed Green Coliseum.
Fisher totaled a team-best 22 kills and 11 digs for her eighth double-double of 2010, while Vukson added 54 assists, 14 digs and a career-high seven total blocks for her third double-double on the season.
"This was a match that could have gone either way, right down to the last two points," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "I thought that Southern Miss' experience really came through, especially on some of the biggest points of the match. It felt like tonight we made some great plays. Our effort and our energy were the highest they have been all season and I commend Southern Miss for matching our effort, especially when it mattered the most. We did some great things tonight as a team and we played well enough to win, but it seemed that often when we got to the brink of breaking through, somebody on Southern Miss made a great play."
Sophomore Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) returned to the court for the first time since suffering an injury at Houston on Oct. 1, and the right-side hitter showed no signs of rust as she totaled 14 kills, a service ace and a block for the visiting Knights.
Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) and Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) also made significant contributions to the UCF offense, posting nine and eight kills, respectively. Riedel added four blocks and three digs in the contest, while Sara Rex (Oldsmar, Fla.) matched Riedel with four blocks of her own.
Libero Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) led the quintet of Knights with double-digit digs with 25, with Dani Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla.) posting 18 digs and Roxy Mendez (Orlando, Fla.) adding a career-best 13 digs to go along with Fisher and Vukson's totals.
In the opening set, the Knights fell down early and were never able to catch the Golden Eagles as the home team held the advantage the entire way. The Black and Gold held an eight-point disadvantage late in the contest, but fought its way back to within five points. The rally was too late, however, as USM needed only one point to take a one-set lead in the match.
UCF took advantage of the momentum it gained in the first set in set No. 2, as the squad evened the match at one set apiece with a 25-23 victory. The Knights trailed early, but came back to even the set at 10-10 on back-to-back kills from Crump and Fisher, before the duo once again combined for a pair of kills to take a two-point lead, its biggest of the match. From there, the two teams played neck-and-neck, tying each other eight different times. The Black and Gold finally pulled away from the Golden Eagles following a 21-21 tie after going on a 4-2 run, which included three kills from Fisher, to close out the set and knot the match at 1-1 heading into intermission.
Southern Miss was able to post a win in the third set, before UCF once again came back to even the match with a fourth-set victory. After trailing in the first half of the set, the Knights benefitted from a 7-1 run to take a 20-14 lead late. The Golden Eagles pulled to within four, but kills from Vilde and Crump sealed the Black and Gold victory and sent the match into a decisive fifth set.
In the deal-breaker, UCF was the first to score, but a 6-1 run from the home team put the Knights in a hole too big to dig out of. A block from Vilde and Riedel pulled the Black and Gold to within two points of the Golden Eagles at the end of the set, but it ran out of time as an Ashley Mell kill ended the set and the match.
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.