Nov. 25, 2009
By Sarah Tarasewicz
TAMPA, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team had five different players post double-digit kills and hit .329 as a team Wednesday night as the squad defeated in-state rival USF (18-10), 3-2, in a five-set thriller on the road at The Corral to improve its record to 12-18 on the year.
"As a program, all you can hope for is to put yourself in a position where you can feel the way that we feel right now," head coach Todd Dagenais said following the match. "Not only did we see a team that executed fundamentals at a very high level over the duration of a match, but we saw a team that has gone through a season of adversity and they left it all on the court. It is really nice that the team gets to go into the end of the season feeling like they do right now."
Sophomore Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) led the offensive charge, hitting a career-best .394 with 19 kills, while also registering a double-double with 10 digs. Freshman Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) contributed a .483 attack percentage with 14 kills and three blocks, while seniors Erin Campbell (Kansas City, Mo.) and Lauren Williams (Lake Mary, Fla.) added 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Williams hit .500 on the evening and posted two blocks and Campbell had eight digs and two blocks for the Knights.
"We knew that Evija Vilde had a match like that in her," Dagenais said. "And she sure picked a nice time for it to come out. Not only was she attacking at an elite level, but her blocking was also at an elite level. I also thought that Kristin Fisher stepped up and played the best match she has played all year."
Freshman Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ontario) had a breakout performance in the victory, hitting .478 while matching her career-bests with 11 kills and seven blocks. She also established a new career-high with four digs. Both McCutcheon and Vilde finished the match without an attack error.
"I think the key tonight was that we knew we had to be balanced on offense, because Erin (Campbell) has been playing at between 50-60 percent because of an injury. Our middles, Lauren Williams and Tory McCutcheon, stepped up big time. (Assistant coach) Michelle Chatman has done such a great job working with them and believing in them, especially in a position where we have suffered so many injuries."
Fellow freshman Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) and junior Kristen Petrasic (Carrollton, Texas) both controlled the back row, each recording 14 digs, with Murphy adding two service aces and extending her streak of double-digit digs to nine matches.
The Knights stormed out to take an early 1-0 lead on the Bulls after winning the opening set, 26-24. UCF fell down early, but a 7-1 run behind the serving of senior Andee Youngblood (Castle Rock, Colo.) gave the squad a 9-5 advantage. The Bulls started to chip away at the Knights' lead, before finally evening the set, 14-14, before going up by as many as three points late. But, kills from McCutcheon, Vilde, Fisher, Campbell and Williams put the Black and Gold back on top just in time, 24-23, as Campbell posted two-consecutive points with a kill and a service ace to end the set.
Youngblood finished the contest with a season-best 60 assists, seven digs, three blocks, two kills and a service ace.
"To have Andee distribute the ball the way that she did tonight really kept USF guessing," Dagenais said. "They could just not hone in on anything."
After falling in the second set, the Knights regrouped to take the third set, 25-21. UCF jumped out to an early lead with kills from Williams, Campbell and Fisher, and never looked back, maintaining its advantage for the remainder of the contest. The visiting squad led by as many as seven points late in the set. The Bulls would pull within two points, 22-20, but a 3-1 run, capped off by a McCutcheon kill, sealed the third-set victory.
UCF and USF played evenly throughout the majority of the fourth set, tying the score 12 times throughout, but it was the Bulls who came out victorious in the game, getting back-to-back kills with the score knotted at 23-23, to once again even the match and send the contest into a deciding fifth set.
The Black and Gold took control of the deciding set and cruised to a 15-6 victory. The squad did not commit an error in the final set, hitting .643 with nine kills. UCF jumped all over the Bulls right from the beginning, taking a commanding 13-4 lead following a kill from Fisher. An additional kill from Fisher and another from Vilde put the Knights at match point, before a block from Youngblood and Williams finished off the home team and gave the Black and Gold a season-ending victory.
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