UCF Volleyball to Face Tough Challenge on the Road this Weekend

Oct. 29, 2010

="" alt="Knight Head" border="0" class="imported"> Read John Denton's Knights Insider | ="" alt="Twitter Logo" border="0" class="imported">Follow us on Twitter | ="" alt="Facebook Logo" border="0" class="imported">Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team is gearing up for its toughest road trip of the season this weekend, as it is set to face the two highest ranked teams in Conference USA, SMU and Tulsa, who sit at No. 2 and No. 1, respectively, in league standings. The Knights battle the Mustangs Friday at 8 p.m. ET, before facing league-leader Tulsa Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

The Black and Gold currently sit in sixth place in league standings with a 5-5 C-USA record and a 12-10 overall mark after posting two victories over UAB and Memphis last weekend at The Venue at UCF and winning five of its last six C-USA matches.

"I think that it's fun to be able to go into your most challenging weekend on a high note," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "Having won five of our last six matches, we are heading into the weekend on a high note and with a lot of confidence. We know that if we play well we can compete with anybody in this conference and it's a great opportunity to go out there and prove that. This weekend has the opportunity to be one of those defining moments of our season if we can go out there and seize it. So we are going to go out there and try to do that."

With five wins in C-USA action, the Knights are only one win away from matching its best record in league play since joining C-USA in 2005 and only two victories from posting its most wins ever in the conference. The squad tallied its best record, 6-10, in both its inaugural season in the league in 2005 and in Dagenais' first season as head coach in 2008.

Heading into the weekend sophomore Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) has 829 career digs, which includes a team-best 338 digs this season, and needs only 32 more to break into UCF's top-10 on the all-time digs register. The libero also needs 62 more digs to register dig No. 400 for the second-straight season after tallying 491 digs as a freshman last season.

SMU entertains the Knights Friday ranking second in league standings with a 9-2 record, while also carrying a 17-5 overall mark. Just like the Black and Gold, SMU has won five of its last six matches.

"SMU has been the second-hottest team in the conference," Dagenais stated. "They got clipped last weekend by Houston in a tough match and I know that they are going to be looking to rebound and we are squarely in their sites to help them do that. I like some of the matchups we have against them. They are very athletic and I think it is going to be one of those matches where whoever controls the ball the best is going to win that match. It's going to be up to us to get comfortable on the road and give them the best match that we can."

The Mustangs are led offensively by Dana Powell, who is averaging 3.43 kills per set.

The Knights are 1-5 all-time when facing SMU, with their lone win coming in the opening round of the C-USA Championship in 2007.

Tulsa enters the weekend with a 20 match winning streak, the longest streak in NCAA Division I this season. The Golden Hurricane host the Black and Gold with a 21-2 overall record, while also holding down the top spot in league standings with a perfect 11-0 record.

"We have talked a lot the last couple of weeks about how Tulsa is clearly the best team in the conference, but I also think that they can be competitive on the national level," Dagenais said. "It is going to be a great challenge to go into their gym and win, but we have had success in their gym. Last time we were there we were able to knock them off. We just have to go out there and play our game. If we serve and block like we did last weekend we can compete with them. We are not going there to lose. We are going there to win."

The team's streak has been helped in large part by the stellar offensive duo of Tyler Henderson and Jordan Clampitt. Outside hitter Henderson leads the nation in both kills and points per set, while Clampitt holds the top spot nationally in assists per set.

UCF trails Tulsa in the all-time series, 2-4, but its last win against the squad also came on the road in Oklahoma in 2008.

Live stats and video are available for both C-USA contests this weekend via UCFAthletics.com.