Nov. 19, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - Behind an impressive overall performance from redshirt freshman Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) in which she hit .556 with a team-best 11 kills and a career-high seven blocks, the UCF volleyball team improved its Conference USA record to a program-best 7-10 with a 3-1 (25-13, 24-26, 25-18, 25-17) victory at Memphis (15-14, 6-11 C-USA) Friday night at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
The Knights' seven wins in league play are the most for the program since joining C-USA in 2005, while their 14-15 overall record is their best since 2008 when the squad posted a 15-17 overall mark. The win was also the first for the Black and Gold in Memphis since 2005.
"This was a monumental moment in the rebirth of our program," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "We had to play on the road late in the year and face adversity in terms of team sickness. Though we were playing without Angelica (Crump) in the lineup, everyone stepped up to fill the void. This is why we train so hard all year, so we can intermix players when we need to. But, we are confident that Angelica will return to the lineup Sunday when we take on UAB."
Besides Riedel, junior Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) also posted double-digit kills in the contest with 10, while the outside hitter added nine digs, four blocks and a service ace.
"Kristin Fisher has been a great leader all year, but I thought tonight she showed the leadership, the passion and the fire that we haven't seen in any year that we've been here," Dagenais continued. "Her passion literally willed this team to victory today. She was really an incredible leader tonight."
Fellow outside hitter Brittanie Wallace (Austin, Texas) tallied eight kills two digs and three blocks for the Black and Gold and right side hitter Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) totaled nine kills, six digs, four blocks and a career-best four service aces in the win over the Tigers.
"I thought that tonight Brittanie Wallace came up huge for us," Dagenais said. "She had three really important blocks and eight kills, and it seemed like every single one of her kills came when we really needed one. We needed someone to put the ball away and she was there to do it."
Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ont.) contributed a .500 attack percentage with five kills offensively, while adding six blocks and two digs on the defensive side of the ball. In all, UCF tallied 16.0 blocks in the contest, its second-highest total of the season.
"I am so proud of the blocking team that we have become over the last seven or eight weeks," Dagenais said. "Our assistant coaches Michelle (Chatman) and Erik (Peterson) have done such a great job individually working with blockers in their positions to get them ready to put together a blocking package. We are really doing a nice job of lining up the block, finishing the block and calling blocking schemes. We are just blocking really well right now."
As a team the Black and Gold hit .217 in the contest compared to .094 for the Tigers, thanks to the play of setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.). The junior dished out 36 assists, while tallying 11 digs, five blocks and two kills in the win.
In the back court, sophomore Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) posted a match-high 18 digs, four assists and a service ace and fellow sophomore Dani Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla.) registered eight digs and three service aces.
The Knights jumped on the Tigers early in the first set, cruising out to a 6-0 lead behind three kills from Riedel. The squad would go on to lead by as many as 12 points to close out the opening contest, never giving up its advantage during the duration of the set. Riedel finished the set with four kills, while UCF hit .409 as a team with 11 kills and only two attack errors.
The home squad would turn the tables on the Black and Gold in the second set, taking an early lead and holding it through the majority of the contest, leading by as many as six points late. But, the Knights managed to knot the score at 24-24 following a 3-0 run which included two kills from Riedel and a kill from Wallace. The Tigers strung together two-straight points to win the set and even the match at one set apiece.
UCF regrouped during intermission to come out and win the third set. After an early tie, the Knights went on an 8-3 run to take a six-point lead, capped off by a kill from Vilde. Memphis was able to mount a comeback and evened the set two times before a 9-2 run by the Black and Gold closed out the set and gave the visiting squad the advantage in the match.
From there, it was all UCF as the team won the match with a 25-17 victory in the fourth set.
The Knights continue their three-match road swing Sunday with a 2 p.m. ET showdown at UAB.