Nov. 5, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team added its name to the UCF single-match record book Friday with 17.5 total blocks and 29 block assists, while sophomore Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) broke into the program's all-time top-10 in digs despite the Knights (12-13, 5-8 C-USA) falling to Tulane, 3-2 (21-25, 25-16, 22-25, 25-17, 13-15) in Conference USA action Friday night at The Venue at UCF.
"I just told the team in the locker room that this is going to be one of those matches that is really hard to swallow," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "This match does not define our season and this match does not define the rest of our season. It is really important that we just find a way to let this one go, and we have to do it fast. We really showed a lot of guts and a lot of character in this match, but our inexperience caught us."
Murphy tallied a team-best 20 digs against the Green Wave (8-18, 5-9 C-USA) to bring her season total to 379, a mark that ties for the No. 10 spot on the UCF single-season register, while also moving into the 10th spot on the program's all-time register with 870 career digs.
The Black and Gold's 17.5 total blocks in the contest rank ninth on the UCF single-match register, while the squad's 29 block assists tied for the fourth-best total in a single match in the Division I era.
Redshirt freshman Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) led UCF's blocking threat, posting a career-best nine blocks, which included a career-high eight block assists. The middle blocker also tallied the second-highest kill total for the Black and Gold in the contest with 10. Fellow middle blocker Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ont.) added six blocks, while hitting .600 with six kills.
Offensively, junior Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) paced the Knights with 15 kills and also contributed 14 digs, four blocks and a service ace for her 10th double-double of the season. Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) had nine kills and three blocks for the home team, while Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) added seven kills. Brittany Wallace (Austin, Texas) also put her name in the mix with four kills and a career-high four blocks.
Setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) was once again a force on both sides of the ball as she dished out 42 assists and contributed 15 digs and five blocks for her sixth double-double of 2010.
Freshman Roxy Mendez (Orlando, Fla.) was one of four Knights to posted double-digit digs as she totaled 11, while fellow defensive specialist Dani Harrison (Tallahasee, Fla.) registered a career-best five service aces and nine digs.
After falling in the opening set, the Black and Gold recouped in the second set to even the match 1-1. UCF held the advantage over Tulane right from the get-go, as Fisher posted a kill and two blocks and McCutcheon tallied a kill and a block to put the Black and Gold in the driver's seat early, 7-2. From there the home team cruised to a 25-16 victory, leading by as many as nine points toward the end of the set thanks to three service aces from Harrison.
The Green Wave came back to claim set No. 3, but the Knights rallied in the fourth set to once again even the match, 2-2. In the fourth, the two teams were neck-and-neck through the first 22 points, before kills from Vilde, Riedel and Wallace put UCF ahead by four. From that point, the Black and Gold would go on to take a seven-point advantage on another kill by Riedel and would eventually close out the set on a kill from Vilde.
Tulane was able to take a six-point lead to open the fifth and decisive set, but the Black and Gold slowly crept its way back into the match with an 11-5 run to even the set, 11-11. A block by Vukson and Riedel gave UCF its first lead of the set, before an attack error by the Green Wave put the Knights ahead by two and only two points away from winning the match. But, a 4-0 run by the visiting squad stopped UCF's rally short and ended the match.
The Knights return to the court at The Venue at UCF Sunday for a 1 p.m. C-USA match-up with Southern Miss which is set to air live on Bright House Sports Network.
The Golden Eagles have been one of the hottest teams in the league the past four weeks, winning seven-consecutive matches in C-USA. The streak began on Oct. 15 when Southern Miss barely edged the Knights in Hattiesburg, 3-2 (19-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-19, 12-15) in the teams' only other meeting in 2010. Ashley Mell, the reigning C-USA Player of the Week, leads the Golden Eagles and ranks second in C-USA with a 4.53 kills-per-set average.