Volleyball Drops First Conference Match to Tulsa, 3-1


Sept. 25, 2011

Final Stats

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By Eric DeSalvo

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team's resilient effort came up short Sunday afternoon from The Venue at UCF as it dropped its first Conference USA match, 3-1, to Tulsa (25-21, 20-25, 15-25, 25-27). The Knights (10-4) ended their C-USA homestand with a 2-1 record with victories over UTEP and SMU.

Despite the four-set loss to the Golden Hurricane (11-4), head coach Todd Dagenais was pleased with the effort put forth by his squad.

"Just looking at the numbers, I'm confident that we are going in the direction we need to go," Dagenais said. "I said this is clearly the best team in the conference, and they are. They showed it at the end and I think we've been beaten for the second time this year. This is our fourth loss, but I feel that there were two times that we truly were beaten.

"We are closing the gap (on Tulsa)," Dagenais said. "I'm not excited about the loss, but I am excited about the play, the passion, fire and energy. You have to have that in place to go out and beat a team like this. We get them again, and I think we learned some things that will help us next time around."

The Knights once again started the match with a first-set victory, their 11th-straight since dropping the first frame against UNF on Aug. 27. Junior Tory McCutcheon's (Milton, Ontario) clutch serving yielded eight points for the squad, including a 6-0 run with her at the line.

Getting her second-straight start, freshman Delaina Sarden (Lawrenceville, Ga.) came up huge for the Knights in the first stanza, clobbering five kills, including the final two to clinch the set. The first-year middle blocker finished the match with a career-high 12 kills (.333) and chipped in with a service ace and block assist.

After dropping the second and third sets, the Knights hung tough in the fourth frame that was back and forth up until 21-all. Tulsa ran off the next three points, but the Knights wrote off three match points to take a 25-24 lead. The Golden Hurricane wouldn't be denied as all-league outside hitter, Tyler Henderson, closed the match with two of her 18 kills.

Both UCF and Tulsa closed the match with 54 kills apiece. Junior Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas), moved up the record books once again, passing former Knight, Renata Menchikova, for No. 3 on the all-time dig list after collecting 15 defensive-helpers against Tulsa. The team leader in the category now boasts 1,200 for her career.

Aside from Sarden's breakout performance, sophomore Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) and junior Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) also had solid offensive performances, totaling 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Senior Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ontario) recorded another solid performance with 45 assists and six digs.

After hosting eight-straight matches, the Knights will venture onto the road for the second time in 2011 when they head to East Carolina and Marshall next Friday and Sunday.