Dec. 14, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - With the 2009 UCF volleyball season having come to a close, head coach Todd Dagenais recently sat down with UCFAthletics.com to share his top-10 moments from a year in which the Knights laid the foundation for the future of the UCF volleyball program. Last week fans were able to see moments 10-6, which included a nationally televised match against Marshall, a come-from-behind victory at UNC Greensboro, a near-upset of No. 24 Purdue, breaking a seven-match losing streak with a sweep of Memphis and Erin Campbell recording kill and dig No. 1,000 against East Carolina. This week, Dagenais reveals his top-five moments from the season and what they meant to him and for the program's future.
5. Starting the season with a 5-0 record for the first time since 1995.
Date: Aug. 28-Sept. 1
Why it Mattered: The Knights claimed the Radisson-UCF Invitational title with wins over Jacksonville, North Florida, Florida Atlantic and DePaul, before downing Bethune-Cookman on the road to open the season with a 5-0 record. Previous to 2009, the last time the Black and Gold opened a season with five-straight victories was in 1995. After dropping the first set of the season in the opener against Jacksonville, UCF rebounded to win 15-consecutive sets during the stretch.
What Dagenais had to say: "When we started the season with a 5-0 record, we kind of got the confidence going. The thought then was that maybe this wasn't a rebuilding year, maybe this is a rebuilding year where we actually have the chance to win more than we lose. The 5-0 start was the best since 1995 and that is a little bit of history, and we need to have little history milestones all along the way like that."
4. Posting an 8-2 record through the team's first 10 matches of the season.
Date: Aug. 28-Sept. 11
Why it mattered: After starting the season with a 5-0 clip, UCF would go on to post victories over UTSA, High Point and UNC Greensboro during the second-five matches of the year. During the span, the Knights' only two losses came to host Baylor, who advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season, and Purdue, who was ranked No. 24 in the AVCA Coaches Poll at the time of the teams' meeting. The 8-2 mark was the best mark through the first 10 matches of the season since UCF opened the year at 8-2 to open the 2001 season.
What Dagenais had to say: "We started the first 10 matches with an 8-2 record, with our only losses coming against ranked teams. We were one-third of the way through the season and we thought that we might be pretty good. Then, of course, the following Tuesday was when the injuries started and all of a sudden that kind of went away."
3. Breaking the program attendance record vs. USF for VolleyBowl II at The Venue
Date: Sept. 15
Score: UCF 0, USF 3 (23-25, 23-25, 23-25)
Recap: UCF Volleyball Falls to USF in Front of a Record Crowd
Why it mattered: Despite falling short in the match-up with in-state rival USF, the Knights put on an intense show for the crowd of 1,603 UCF faithful that packed The Venue at UCF on Sept. 15. The attendance for the match was the largest in program-history, beating out the former record from last year's crowd of 1,568 fans who saw the Knights take on Stanford.
What Dagenais had to say: "We had USF come to the Venue for VolleyBowl II and the students came out in droves. The place was absolutely packed and electric. It was such a great atmosphere. It foreshadows what we can do here on a very consistent basis. We were very competitive in the match, again, despite missing players. And to lose 25-23, 25-23 and 25-23, was very disappointing, but, man, what a great environment to do it in. Of course we are disappointed that we couldn't make the fans happy by beating an arch-rival, but we competed very well against a tough team in a major BCS conference."
2. Tory McCutcheon's collegiate-debut vs. Southern Miss
Date: Sept. 18
Score: UCF 2, Southern Miss 3 (15-25, 21-25, 33-31, 25-16, 11-15)
Recap: UCF Volleyball Stumbles in C-USA Opener vs. Southern Miss
Why it mattered: Originally slated to redshirt her freshman season, Tory McCutcheon had no intention of taking the floor in UCF's 12th match of the year, which just so happened to be the Knights' Conference USA opener against Southern Miss. But, with three players out with injury prior to the match, and with a last-minute injury to Lauren Williams during warm-ups, Dagenais had no choice but to put the rookie into the contest and see what she could do. What she did was put together an amazing performance where she hit .462 with six kills and also totaled seven blocks. On the season, McCutcheon led UCF in hitting percentage (.327), block assists (59), total blocks (63) and blocks per set (.84), while also ranking fifth in kills (103).
What Dagenais had to say: "Looking down the bench against Southern Miss I asked myself how many middles I had left to go into the match, and there was only one. Instead of Tory McCutcheon looking on the floor, she was looking at me as if asking, `Is it my turn, is it my turn?' I knew she was going to be fine. She had that look on her face that she was ready to go; she already had her hand on her jacket. She unzipped her jacket like she had done it a thousand times, she ran to that sub line like she had done it a thousand times and in she went, and just took off. From there, we had one of our greatest surprises of the year...we got a pretty darn good middle in Tory McCutcheon."
1. Defeating USF at the Corral to end the 2009 season
Date: Nov. 25
Score: UCF 3, USF 2 (26-24, 18-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-6)
Recap: UCF Volleyball Concludes 2009 Slate with Thrilling Victory at USF
Why it mattered: The Knights entered their final match of the 2009 season looking for three things: to break a six-match losing skid, avenge their loss to the Bulls from VolleyBowl II and send the team's three seniors away from UCF with a win. The Black and Gold accomplished all three of those goals with a thrilling five-set win over USF on Nov. 25 at the Corral to conclude the year. UCF had five different players post double-digit kills and hit .329 as a team in the contest.
What Dagenais had to say: "Easily, the No. 1 moment of the season was just created when we went over to USF, a team that was certainly on the bubble to make the NCAA Tournament, and we found a way to grind out a win against them to wrap up our season. It was like an entire culmination of emotion that was built up over four months got released in one two-hour block. As we said in the locker room afterwards, this is what we are capable all of the time. Wins over top-50 type teams shouldn't be the exception to the rule, they are going to be the rule. That is something that we wanted to younger players to take away. The older players get to walk away with the satisfaction that they beat a very good USF team. That wasn't a gimme. That they got to avenge a loss from earlier in the season, a three-set loss and they walk away winners. There are so few teams in the country that win their last match, much less against a quality opponent. That is really a special feeling for those three seniors to walk away knowing that they beat a high-quality opponent, at that opponent's gym, in their very last match that they are going to play as a collegiate athlete. That has got to be my No. 1 most memorable moment from 2009."
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