Oct. 17, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
NEW ORLEANS, La. (UCFAthletics.com) - Behind a match-high 22 kills from Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.), the UCF volleyball team posted a thrilling five-set, 3-2 (26-24, 21-25, 14-25, 25-21, 15-9), Conference USA victory over Tulane Sunday afternoon at Fogelman Arena.
"We went into this match today knowing that it could be another match like what we had at Southern Miss on Friday and the question that we had to answer ourselves was if we had the mental toughness to execute the skills when it mattered the most. And I think that we left no doubt whether or not we did," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "We played some of our best volleyball at some of the toughest times in the match and I feel like the team executed the game plan so well in some of the most critical junctures."
The win improved the Knights' record to 10-10 on the season and 3-5 in league action, while the Green Wave dropped to 5-15 overall and 2-6 in C-USA play.
Besides posting more than 20 kills for the second-straight match, Fisher also hit .278, while adding nine digs, four blocks and an assist.
"Kristin was hitting about .114 after the second set, and I pulled her aside and told her she needed to get hot and that this was the time that we needed her the most," Dagenais said. "She started off immediately with a kill and followed it up with another kill and was hitting really well after that in order to finish with a .278 attack percentage, which is fantastic after the way she started off the match."
Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia), Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) and Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) were another big reason for the Knights' success in the contest. Vilde had 12 kills, four digs and a service ace and Crump totaled nine kills, three blocks and two digs. Riedel was a force on both sides of the net, hitting .429 with seven kills and five blocks to lead UCF defensively.
Setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) paced the offense to a .240 attack percentage with 48 assists and contributed eight digs, four kills and a block.
In the back court, the Black and Gold's three defensive specialists, Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas), Dani Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Roxy Mendez (Orlando, Fla.) combined for 34 of UCF's 57 digs. Murphy totaled a team-best 12 digs, while Harrison and Mendez each tallied 11 digs.
"I thought defensively we were really good," Dagenais said. "Meredith, Dani and Roxy really did a nice job of being in the right spots, of being stopped on contact and extremely disciplined. When they do that, we can make rallies go long enough to be able to score. We may not always be able to score on the first ball, but if we can play disciplined defense then we can win it in the rally. That was one thing that was missing on Friday that we did a great job of today."
In a see-saw battle that saw the Knights trailing more than leading in the opening set, UCF rallied back to steal a win from the home team. The Black and Gold trailed by two points late in the game, 20-22, but back-to-back errors by the Green Wave evened the set, 22-22. A kill and a block by McCutcheon gave the Knights their biggest lead of the game and put the squad one point away from closing out the set, but Tulane once again knotted the contest with two-consecutive kills. A service error by the Green Wave gave the Black and Gold a one-point advantage, before a kill from Crump gave the UCF the 26-24 victory.
The Green Wave rallied back to win sets two and three, before the Knights evened the match with a victory in the fourth. Following a 7-7 tie, UCF went ahead on a kill from Fisher and never looked back, going on to even the match, 2-2, while never trailing along the way.
In the decisive fifth set, the home team took an early 4-1 lead, but a 3-0 run from the Black and Gold once again made the score even. From there UCF turned it on, closing out the match on an 8-2 run to improve its record to an even 10-10 on the season.
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.