July 10, 2012
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By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The start of the 2012 UCF volleyball season is six weeks away, and what better time to look back at some of the defining moments from the 2011 season.
The Knights had plenty to celebrate in their record-breaking campaign that saw them win 20 matches for the first time since 2003 and notch a program-best 12 wins in Conference USA. Over the next four weeks, we will continue counting down the top-five moments from the 2011 season leading up to the Knights' 2012 opener against Creighton in the USF Invitational on Aug. 24.
Setting the Stage
Looking for their first home win against Marshall since 2008, the Knights were in for another battle with the Thundering Herd on a truly unique night: 11-11-11. The stakes were also much higher with a potential NCAA berth on the line late in the season. UCF came into the match with a 16-10 record and was 8-7 in Conference USA play.
Aside from the possibility of securing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, a 17th victory would also ensure the Knights of their best record since 2003 and avenge an early season loss in Huntington, W. Va., at the hands of the Thundering Herd.
As they were accustomed to doing at home all year, the Knights raced out to an early lead, claiming the first set, 27-25, and the second, 25-21. Evija Vilde and sophomore Angelica Crump both posted six kills in the first frame to aid the squad to a .576 attack percentage.
UCF only allowed Marshall to connect on .190 percent of its attacks in the second set. Rachel Vukson had a strong all-around effort frame with 13 assists, four digs, and two block assists. For the second time in two matches, the Knights set their season-high in blocks, recording 18 in the contest.
The Herd wouldn't go away easily, storming back to claim the third set, 25-20, and the fourth stanza, 25-21. In the fourth, Marshall was able to rally from a 21-18 deficit with seven-consecutive points to send the match to a fifth set.
In the deciding fifth stanza, the Knights jumped out to 8-3 and 12-8 advantages before having their lead cut all the way down to 14-12. Crump's team-high 23rd and final kill was the deciding point in the contest. The All-C-USA First Teamer was joined by Vilde (16) and rookie DeLaina Sarden (19) in the double-digit kill column and Vukson ended the night with an astounding 62 of the team's 64 assists.
"This was another one of these epic battles between UCF and Marshall," head coach Todd Dagenais said after the victory. "It has been this way since I've been here and will probably always be this way. We prepared to go five games. I was really excited about our ability to compose ourselves after dropping two straight sets. The last time we played at Marshall we lost 3-0, but two of the games were decided by two points. Every time we play Marshall it's close. They are extremely well coached."