UCF Volleyball Opens 2010 Campaign at Florida Gulf Coast Tournament

Aug. 26, 2010

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After weeks of anticipation, the UCF volleyball team opens its 2010 campaign at the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament this weekend in Ft. Myers. The Knights will play their season-opener against Houston Baptist Friday morning at 11 a.m., before taking on the host Eagles at 7 p.m. The event will come to a close for the Black and Gold Saturday with a 1 p.m. match against Bethune-Cookman.

UCF is coming off a 2009 season in which it suffered numerous injuries and posted a 12-18 overall record. The Knights return eight players that saw action on the court last season, which includes four starters and their libero.

Junior Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) is set to be the leader of UCF's young squad which consists of seven newcomers. Fisher ranked second on the team with 113 kills and 407 points last season, and also paced the Knights with 24 service aces as an outside hitter.

On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore libero Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) will look to continue her dominance in the back court for the Knights. In her rookie campaign, Murphy set the program single-season record after averaging 4.27 digs per set, while also posting the second-highest total number of digs in a season with 491. She enters 2010 with a streak of nine-straight matches in which she has tallied 10 or more digs.

The Black and Gold's first opponent at the FGCU Tournament, Houston Baptist, returns eight letterwinners from its team that posted a 13-20 record in 2009. The Huskies' biggest offensive threat this season looks to be sophomore Heather Leaverton, who totaled 272 kills, 36 service aces and 322.0 points as a rookie last year. Friday's meeting will be the first between the two squads.

Florida Gulf Coast returns 11 letterwinners from a successful 2009 campaign in which it compiled an 18-13 overall record, a 15-5 Atlantic Sun Conference mark and an appearance in the A-Sun Championship title match. The Eagles' key returner, All-A-Sun First Team selection Jelena Simic, averaged 3.81 kills per set and 3.01 digs per set in 2009. The Knights are 0-1 all-time against FGCU, falling to the Eagles, 1-3 (23-25, 18-25, 26-24, 18-25), at The Venue at UCF in 2008.

UCF will conclude the tournament Saturday against a Bethune-Cookman squad that returns four starters from 2009, when it tallied a 13-15 overall record and a second-place showing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Kaiyana Johnson is the top returner for the Wildcats, having been named to the MEAC Championship All-Tournament Team last season. UCF holds a 16-0 advantage over Bethune-Cookman in the all-time series, having won 20-consecutive sets in the squads' last seven meetings and claimed wins in 48 of 49 sets all-time versus the Wildcats. The only set UCF dropped to Bethune-Cookman was the second set of the teams' only meeting in 2002.

Following the FGCU Tournament, the Black and Gold will continue one of its two six-match road stretches in Wilmington, N.C., at the UNC Wilmington Hilton Garden Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Classic. During the tournament, the Knights will face the host Seahawks, UNC Greensboro and South Carolina State.

Season tickets are now available for purchase for only $30 online at UCFAthletics.com or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000. The Knights are set to host 13 regular-season matches at The Venue at UCF this season, which includes 10 Conference USA contests.