Oct. 29, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
DALLAS, Texas (UCFAthletics.com) - Outside hitter Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) matched her career-high after posting 26 kills for the second-straight match despite the UCF volleyball team falling to host SMU, 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 21-25, 10-15), in a five-set nail-biter Friday night at Moody Coliseum in Conference USA action.
"We have played some really good teams this year and for the first time this season we had one of those teams on the ropes," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "That allowed our team the opportunity to hit a new milestone, which was to get a team on the ropes, one of the top teams in the conference and one of the top-50 in the country, and put them away. Sometimes you have to be in that position numerous times to seize that opportunity. The positive we take out of this match is that we had this team on the ropes and we did not get passive. We did not get weak and we did not show fear."
The Knights fell to 12-11 on the season and 5-6 in league play with the loss, while the Mustangs improved to 18-5 overall and 10-2 in C-USA action with the win.
"This was a great effort by our group tonight in all facets of the game," Dagenais continued. "I thought that at the very end, SMU played great defense and we weren't able to match them defensively in the latter parts of set four and set five. I thought that for a good part of this match we were in control and at times we were in complete control and I'm sure SMU feels very fortunate that they were able to get out of here with a win tonight."
Also putting together career-performances for the Black and Gold were redshirt freshman Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) and freshman Roxy Mendez (Orlando, Fla.). Riedel tallied a career-best eight total blocks against the Mustangs, which included four block solos and four block assists. The middle blocker added five kills and four digs for the Knights. Mendez recorded career-highs with 14 digs and three assists.
Setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) posted her fifth double-double of the year after tallying 43 assists, 13 digs, four blocks and three kills.
After falling in a close contest in the opening set, the Black and Gold bounced back in set No. 2 to even the match, 1-1. The home team led three times early in the second set, but a kill from Crump and a block by Vukson and Riedel put the Knights ahead for the remainder of the contest. UCF led by as many as seven points toward the conclusion of the set, 21-13, before a kill from Crump sealed the win.
The Knights controlled the third set as well. After taking the lead at 9-8 on a kill from Fisher, the visiting squad never trailed again in the set. The Black and Gold took its biggest lead late in the contest, 22-16, on a block solo by Riedel and Fisher put UCF ahead of the host Mustangs 2-1 in the match with a set-closing kill.
SMU managed to come back in the fourth set to once again even the match and send the game into the fifth set. In the final set, the Mustangs held the advantage through most of the first 18 points. The visiting Knights were able to even the contest three different times, but playing on its home court turned out to be an advantage for SMU as it was able to pull out the five-set win.
The Knights are back in action Sunday when they battle league-leader Tulsa on the road at 2 p.m. ET. Tulsa enters the weekend with a 20 match winning streak, the longest streak in NCAA Division I this season. The Golden Hurricane host the Black and Gold with a 21-2 overall record, while also holding down the top spot in league standings with a perfect 11-0 record.
"We have talked a lot the last couple of weeks about how Tulsa is clearly the best team in the conference, but I also think that they can be competitive on the national level," Dagenais said. "It is going to be a great challenge to go into their gym and win, but we have had success in their gym. Last time we were there we were able to knock them off. We just have to go out there and play our game. If we serve and block like we did last weekend we can compete with them. We are not going there to lose. We are going there to win."
The team's streak has been helped in large part by the stellar offensive duo of Tyler Henderson and Jordan Clampitt. Outside hitter Henderson leads the nation in both kills and points per set, while Clampitt holds the top spot nationally in assists per set.
UCF trails Tulsa in the all-time series, 2-4, but its last win against the squad also came on the road in Oklahoma in 2008.
Live stats and video are available for Sunday's C-USA contest via UCFAthletics.com.