No. 9 UCF Volleyball Concludes Season With Loss to No. 1 Tulane at C-USA Championship


Nov. 21, 2008

Box Score

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - The No. 9 UCF volleyball team's season came to an end Friday in the Conference USA Volleyball Championship Quarterfinals, as the Knights fell to top-seeded Tulane, 3-0 (18-25, 25-27, 17-25), at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse in Memphis, Tenn.

Janine Williams (Gainesville, Fla.) paced UCF with 16 kills and a career-best .464 hitting percentage, while adding four digs and a block assist. The sophomore committed only three errors on 28 attempts in the match. Stephanie Serna (San Antonio, Texas) also had a solid outing for the Black and Gold, registering 12 kills.

"This was a very difficult loss for us because we felt like we were competitive for a good part of the match," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "We know that we have it within us to be one of the top teams in the conference, but despite the loss, it doesn't take away from the greater goal of turning the corner in the history of the program. I thought that we were able to turn the corner this season, without a doubt. It is important for us to remember that we have come a very long way as a team and as a program. Our number one goal for the year was to build the foundation for the future and we succeeded with flying colors."

After trailing 4-1 early in the first set, the Knights put together a 5-2 run to even the set, 6-6. UCF took its first lead of the set following a kill by Williams, before trading points on the next eight serves to even the score again, 10-10. From that point, the Green Wave strung together six-consecutive points to control the set, going on to win, 25-18.

The Black and Gold trailed by as many as five points at the beginning of set No. 2, before Jenny Heppert (Lawrence, Kan.) helped the Knights tie the score, 11-11, with two kills and two blocks. After that, UCF and Tulane battled back and forth, tying the set eight different times, before the Knights finally took the lead, 20-19, on a kill by Williams. The match would be evened three more times before Tulane and UCF traded 3-0 runs and sat tied again at 24-24. Williams kept the Black and Gold in the match with a kill, but the Green Wave rattled off two kills of their own to take the set, 27-25.

In all, the two teams tied 16 times in the second set, including a stretch where the Knights and the Green Wave battled back and forth for 20-straight points. UCF outhit Tulane in the set, .325 with 19 kills to .243 with 15 kills.

Heppert totaled five kills and two block assists in the match for UCF, while four additional Knights posted one block assist apiece. Also aiding the defensive effort for the Black and Gold were Kathleen Curry (Geneva, Fla.), who posted a match-high 11 digs, and Erin Campbell (Kansas City, Mo.), who had nine digs and eight kills.

The Green Wave showed why they are one of the top teams in the nation in the third and final set, taking the lead at 4-3 and never looking back, winning the set 25-17. Tulane committed only one error in the set, while outhitting UCF, .500 to .148.

"Tulane was just a better team than we were today," Dagenais said. "They were able to execute with a sustained effort, whereas we were able to execute effort in intense bursts. But, it is not enough when you go up against a team that is that experienced and has been that battle-tested. There were times today when we executed the best that we have executed all year long. With that being said, because of Tulane's excellence, they were able to hang with us even when we were executing at that high of a level. In a championship-type match with championship-like pressure, we showed that we have the ability to compete."

The match served as the last in the careers of seniors Heppert and Serna.

"Our two seniors gave us everything that they could give us, both on and off the court," Dagenais said. "I am very proud of their effort, and because of them this program is going to enjoy success in the future."

The loss wraps up the Knights' most successful season in five years. The Black and Gold posted a 15-17 overall record and tied the 2005 squad for the most wins in C-USA play with a 6-10 league mark. Its eighth-place finish in the league standings was its highest finish to date, while it secured only its second win in the conference tournament this season.

The Knights defeated five teams in C-USA that they had never previously beaten, East Carolina, Marshall, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP, and also registered a five-match winning streak from Sept. 13-20, its longest streak since 2004.

"Five years from now we are all going to look back at this season and say that it was a massive turning point in our history," Dagenais said. "It took a lot of courage, work ethic and unselfishness to achieve."

For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.

Short Box Score (Match)
#9 UCF vs #1 Tulane (Nov 21, 2008 at Memphis, Tenn.)

Tulane def. UCF 25-18, 27-25, 25-17

UCF (15-17) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Williams, Janine 16-0-1; SERNA,
Stephanie 12-0-1; Campbell, Erin 8-0-1; Heppert, Jenny 5-0-2;
Williams, Lauren 2-0-2; Rosenthal, Lauren 0-1-0; Youngblood, Andrea
0-1-0; Totals 43-2-4.0. (Assists) - Rosenthal, Lauren 30. (Dig
leaders) - Curry, Kathleen 11; Campbell, Erin 9

Tulane (25-5) (Kills-aces-blocks) - DJURDJEVIC, Visnja 12-0-3; LINDER,
Jen 9-2-6; RADOSEVIC, Sara 9-4-1; WELLS, Bridget 5-0-4; SHEPARD,
Lindsey 4-0-4; GENEMARAS, Amaris 2-0-1; VLASKOVIC, Ksenija 2-0-2;
LINDELOW, Rachel 0-2-0; Totals 43-8-10.5. (Assists) - REBROVIC, Luna
20; LINDELOW, Rachel 14. (Dig leaders) - RADOSEVIC, Sara 9; LINDELOW,
Rachel 7

Site: Memphis, Tenn. (ER Fieldhouse)
Date: Nov 21, 2008 Attend: Time: 1:23
Referees: Steve Robb, Mary Blalock