Nov. 12, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Despite getting 10 kills from both Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) and Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.), the UCF volleyball team fell to No. 25 Tulsa, 3-0 (23-25, 16-25, 19-25), in a hard-fought battle Friday night in Conference USA action at The Venue at UCF.
"A match like this tells us that we are not that far away," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "This a night-and-day performance compared to what we gave when we were there. When we were there we were not in the match at all, but here we were in the match. I thought we were good enough to take a set or two, but we just couldn't get a big kill at the right time."
The loss dropped the Knights' record to 13-14 overall and 6-9 in league play, while the Golden Hurricane improved to 26-2 on the year, a perfect 16-0 in conference action and also extended its nation-best win streak to 25 matches.
"This truly is a top-25 team," Dagenais continued. "They could very well be the best C-USA team in the three years that I have been in the conference. We use them as a measuring stick to see where we are in comparison to where we want to be. We are not ready to necessarily beat a team like this in a dominating fashion, but we are pretty close to being able to beat a team like this. This was as good of a three-set loss as you can possibly have, because we were competitive.
Fisher added nine digs and a block assist to her double-digit kill total, while Crump also posted a block assist. Redshirt freshman Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) was a force in the middle for the Black and Gold, hitting .538 with eight kills, two digs and three block assists.
Setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) tallied 30 assists, six digs and two block assists against her former squad, while sophomore Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) added three block assists for the home team.
In the back court, Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) once again led UCF with 13 digs. Dani Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla.) also posted double-digits digs with 10, with Roxy Mendez (Orlando, Fla.) adding five.
The opening set of the contest was a nail-biter from the beginning, with the Knights and the Golden Hurricane tying 16 times throughout the set and trading leads four different times. After six ties, the Black and Gold took its first lead of the contest, 10-9, on a Tulsa miscue, but six more even scores would follow before UCF grabbed its biggest advantage of the set, 17-15, on a block by Fisher and Riedel. The Knights continued to hold a two-point lead through the next four points, but the Golden Hurricane continued to hang around and tied the set four more times. The visiting squad took the lead back from the Black and Gold on a UCF attack error, 22-23, before rattling off a 2-1 run to take the advantage in the match.
"I thought that we had an excellent opportunity to take the first set from them," Dagenais said. "Which would have been a pretty nice achievement considering where we were three weeks ago when we played them last."
Tulsa opened the second set with a 6-1 run and never looked back, holding the lead through the duration of the contest. The Knights were able to pull within four points of the Golden Hurricane four different times, but the visiting team would not let them get any closer as they would go on the win the set, 25-16.
Following intermission, the Black and Gold once again fell behind early in the third set and were never able to recover. The home team closed the gap to within two points late on a kill from Fisher, 17-19, but a 6-0 run from Tulsa ended the set and gave the visiting team its nation-leading 25th-consecutive win.
The Knights are back in action Sunday afternoon when they take on second-place SMU at The Venue at UCF beginning at 1 p.m.
SMU travels to Orlando with the league's second-best record at 13-2, with its only two C-USA losses coming at the hands of Tulsa and Houston. The Mustangs have won their last four contests, which included a five-set win over UCF at Moody Coliseum. The squad is led by junior Dana Powell who ranks eighth in the league in kills per set.
The match against the Mustangs at The Venue at UCF can be followed live on UCFAthletics.com via Gametracker for live stats or Knights All-Access for live video.