UCF Volleyball Stumbles in C-USA Opener vs. Southern Miss


Sept. 18, 2009

Box Score

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF (8-4, 0-1 C-USA) volleyball team opened Conference USA action Friday afternoon with a hard-fought, 3-2 (15-25, 21-25, 33-31, 25-16, 11-15), loss to Southern Miss (11-1, 1-0 C-USA) to kick-off their part of the schedule at the Radisson-UCF Classic at The Venue at UCF.

"My hat goes off to Southern Miss for the effort they put forth today," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "They showed why they were a 10-1 team heading into this match. They figured out a way to win when they needed to."

Erin Campbell (Kansas City, Mo.), Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) and Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) paced the Knights' offense in the league-opener. Campbell posted her fifth double-double of the year with a team-high 19 kills and 17 digs, Fisher registered her first-career double-double with 18 kills and 20 digs, while Vilde added 16 kills, seven digs and five blocks.

In her collegiate debut, freshman Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ontario) shined for the home team, hitting .462 with six kills and seven blocks.

"We knew that Tory was going to be very good," Dagenais said. "We had an injury in our warm-up, and because of that injury we had no choice but to take Tory off a year that we thought we would be able to redshirt her. I'm disappointed that I had to player her tonight, but I am very happy with her performance. It comes as no surprise to us that she did this well because she has been consistently doing it in practice every day."

With the help of McCutcheon, the UCF defense dominated the match. As a team, the Knights totaled 14 blocks, compared to only six for the visiting Golden Eagles, which included four block solos and 20 block assists.

After dropping the opening pair of sets, UCF had its back against the wall heading into set No. 3. In the set, the Knights and the Golden Eagles traded leads 11 times and had 22 tie scores, before a kill from Vilde at 31-31 and a Southern Miss error finally put the Black and Gold on the board with a 33-31 victory.

The Knights owned the fourth set of the match after jumping out to an 18-9 lead behind four kills and a solo block from Fisher and three kills from Vilde. Southern Miss would only be able to pull within six points of UCF before Vilde once again led the charge to close out the set and even the match, 2-2.

UCF took an early 4-2 lead to begin the decisive fifth set, but a 7-0 run from the Golden Eagles was too much for the Knights to overcome as the visiting team would go on to take the set and the match with a 15-11 win.

"I'm pleased by our efforts in sets three and four, and parts of set five, but I'm really disturbed about our performance in sets one and two," Dagenais said. "We continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. We need to play to win. Playing to win is an attitude that starts at the first whistle and it seems like we don't start playing to win until our backs are against the wall, when we have no choice but to fight. We need to fight from the beginning."

The Knights will get that opportunity Saturday afternoon when they continue play in the Radisson-UCF Classic against in-state foe FIU at 3 p.m. UCF then concludes the tournament with a match against Florida A&M at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Season tickets for the 2009 season are still available for only $30, with the Knights hosting 12 more regular-season matches at The Venue at UCF this year.

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.