UCF Volleyball Weekly Notebook

Sept. 20, 2011

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By Eric DeSalvo

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team wrapped up its tournament season this past weekend with the Towne Place Suites/UCF Challenge, pushing its record to 9-3 after sweeping UTEP in the conference opener and dropping a thrilling five-setter to FIU.

With only conference matches on the slate for the rest of the season, the Knights can concentrate on making their goal of finishing in the top four of Conference USA a reality as they welcome SMU and Tulsa to The Venue at UCF this weekend. UCF already has a leg up on its competition with the early conference win over the Miners, placing them atop the league standings. The Knights will aim for their first 2-0 start in conference play since 2005.

Quotes from the Weekend
Junior Tory McCutcheon on the defensive presence and strong play by the middles
"I think the defense was really key" McCutcheon said. "It is something we worked on all week. The wave was a big part of their offense and I think we shut it down early which really helped."

"It felt great, but I have to give credit to everybody else," McCutcheon said. "To have the pass to do it is critical and to have the outsides assert themselves so early really opened it up for us."

Head coach Todd Dagenais on his team's defense against UTEP
"Once you get into conference, the hitting percentages always seem to go down," Dagenais said. "That comes from teams knowing each other well. We've scouted each other, studied a ton of film on each other. Defensively, we hung in there and just took some insane shots from them and were able to pop the ball up and transition to score."

Double the Fun
Senior setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ontario) has had quite season so far in 2011 dolling out assists by the bunches, but also chipping in on the defensive side. Vukson recorded her third and fourth-consecutive double-doubles in assists and digs against UTEP and FIU. The 18 defensive helpers against the Miners was a career-best. With six double-doubles under her belt through the first 12 matches, Vukson is well on her way to surpassing the eight she posted in 2010.

Among the League's Best
As one of Conference USA's most improved teams, UCF ranks near the top in all of the league's statistical categories. The Knights are the best overall defensive team, holding their opponents to just a .139 hitting percentage through the first 12 matches of the season. UCF has also given up the fewest kills-per-set at 10.48. On the offensive side, the Black and Gold rank second in hitting percentage (.268), assists (13.63 per set) and kills (14.43 per set).

National Presence
The Knights are still receiving votes in the AVCA polls and unofficially rank No. 41. In the RichKern Poll, UCF comes in at No. 36. Individually, the Knights rank among the nation's best as Vukson and Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) find themselves in elite company. Averaging 12.38 assists-per-set, Vukson continues to rank second in the nation, trailing only Memphis' Hajnalka Molnar (12.48). The recipient of many Vukson assists has been Crump who leads the team in kills and ranks 18th in the nation in kills-per-set (4.45).

Can You Dig It?
Junior libero Meredith Murphy continues to climb the all-time dig list at UCF. The Austin, Texas, native racked up 34 digs between the two contests this past weekend, surpassing both Erin Campbell and Emily Queisser to take over sole possession of fourth place with 1,160 digs. With another solid weekend, Murphy has a chance at moving up to No. 3 past Renata Menchikova (1,192).

All-Tournament Team Selections
4 - Angelica Crump - Courtyard by Marriott/UCF Classic, MVP FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational, Residence Inn/UCF Classic and Towne Place Suites/UCF Challenge
4 - Rachel Vukson - Courtyard by Marriott/UCF Classic, FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational, Residence Inn/UCF Classic and Towne Place Suites/UCF Challenge
1 - Meredith Murphy - FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational

Bursting Out of the Gates
The hot start that the Knights have gotten off to in 2011 is the best in eight years for the program. UCF hasn't been 9-3 this late in the season since the 2003 squad began the year at 12-3. The Knights will also be looking to go 2-0 to start the conference season since joining C-USA in 2005. A 3-0 mark to begin league play would be a first for the squad.

Up Next for UCF
The Knights will welcome two conference foes from the west division this weekend when they take on SMU and Tulsa. Friday night's matchup with the Mustangs begins at 7 p.m., with the Knights returning Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. to host the Golden Hurricane. UCF will be looking for its first wins over each school since 2008.

Season tickets for the 2011 season are available now for only $30, which includes 18 regular-season matches at The Venue at UCF and admission to three home tournaments. Also available for purchase this season is the UCF Gold Pass. For $75, the Gold Pass grants the avid Knights fan admission to all home volleyball, men's soccer, women's soccer, softball and track & field events.