Nov. 17, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team is set to take on Memphis and UAB on the road this weekend in a critical Conference USA series, with the Knights taking on the Tigers Friday at 8 p.m. ET and the Blazers Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
The league series is one of the most critical for the Black and Gold down the stretch, as the three squads are currently tied for seventh place in C-USA standings with 6-10 conference records with only four matches remaining in the regular-season.
UCF holds a 13-15 overall record heading into the series, while Memphis is 15-13 on the season and UAB is 9-10 overall.
"We have probably the most important road-trip all year this weekend," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "These are two teams that we beat at home. Both Memphis and UAB are teams that are right with us in the standings and if we want to hold our spot we are going to have to beat those teams."
Having already defeated both teams at The Venue at UCF earlier in the season, the Knights are confident that they can reproduce the same results on the road this weekend.
"We are really going to have to be firing on all cylinders when we go down to those two places," Dagenais said. "I think this is a situation for us where we have an opportunity to really solidify some things and really move forward. I think this is just a really crucial weekend for us. It is going to be important that we have a good week of preparation heading into these matches because those are season-swinging type matches for us. We are going to be ready to play, but you know they are going to be ready to play too. This is our most important road trip weekend of the year."
UCF is 4-6 in its last six C-USA contests, which includes wins over Southern Miss, Tulane, the Tigers and the Blazers. In those four victories, the Knights hit .241, while averaging 13.1 kills per set. The squad also out-blocked its opponents by a significant margin, as UCF posted a 2.6 blocks-per-set average compared to its opponents' average of 1.9 blocks per set.
In its previous meeting vs. Memphis, the Black and Gold tallied 16.0 total team blocks, which included six total blocks from Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ont.), and eight service aces to earn a 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-22) sweep in front of the home crowd. In the overall series, the Knights trail the Tigers, 8-11, but have posted wins in three of its last five meetings with the squad.
"We played Memphis as tight as you could in a three-set match," Dagenais said. "And you know that they are going to be out to prove a point on their home court."
Junior Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) posted a career-best 26 kills to help UCF defeat UAB in a five-set thriller, 3-2 (16-25, 25-20, 28-26, 23-25, 15-12), at The Venue at UCF in the teams' last meeting. The win was only the third for the Knights against the Blazers since joining C-USA, while also marking the first time defeating the squad since 2005. The Black and Gold trail UAB, 6-10, in the all-time series.
"UAB feels like they should have won the match when they were here, so you know that they will be out to prove a point as well," Dagenais said.
The Knights will play three-straight matches away from The Venue at UCF to wrap up their regular-season road schedule beginning Friday, Nov. 19 at Memphis. The Black and Gold will also play UAB and UTEP on the road during the stretch.