Oct. 11, 2009
NEW ORLEANS, La. (UCFAthletics.com) - Playing one of the top teams in the conference Sunday afternoon, UCF (10-10, 2-5 C-USA) hung tough in each set before watching host Tulane (10-6, 5-2 C-USA) pull away late as the Knights fell 3-0 in New Orleans in Conference USA volleyball action. The host Green Wave won the match with scores of 25-14, 25-18 and 25-23.
"We ran into a team that was really eager to prove itself today," said head coach Todd Dagenais. "Tulane had struggled in its past couple of matches, and I think they were out to convince the rest of the conference they belonged in the championship picture. We spent the entire week preparing for UTEP [Friday night] because that was a match we had to win because down the road we will be competing with them for a spot in the conference tournament."
The Knights got off to a strong start in the first set and were tied 9-9, but Tulane took control from there to get on the scoreboard first, 25-14.
The second set was similar as senior Erin Campbell (Kansas City, Mo.) gave UCF a 5-2 lead early with a kill and a block on back-to-back points. Another Campbell kill made it 11-11 midway through the set, but the hosts won 14 of the final 21 points to get the 2-0 lead.
"I thought we gave a really good effort and played with a lot of energy," said Dagenais. "For each of the three sets we were with them, but our errors combined with their proficiency allowed them to break away from us. For us to be successful against teams like this, we have to diversify our offense. Right now we are depending on too few people to carry the load, and Tulane executed a great game plan to stop us. We were not able to execute on a high enough level to neutralize their game plan."
UCF played a thrilling third set while trying to extend the match. Getting seven kills from Campbell, the Knights stayed close and held a 20-17 lead late. However, the talented Tulane squad again pulled away and claimed the decisive set, 25-23.
Campbell led UCF statistically with 14 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore Kristen Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) added nine kills while senior setter Andee Youngblood (Castle Rock, Colo.) directed the offense with 19 assists.
"Again Erin led us and got the kills and the digs we needed. It is important for her to perform at a high level, and she continued to do that," said Dagenais. "We are still a work in progress, but I think that is a positive thing because we are nowhere near as good as we can be at the end of the year. Unfortunately, we only play Tulane once this year because I would love another opportunity to face them. Maybe we will get that chance in the conference tournament."
UCF will return to action and to its home court when the team hosts Rice Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at The Venue.
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