Volleyball Drops First of Two Matches This Weekend Against UAB, 3-1


Oct. 7, 2011

Final Stats

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By Eric DeSalvo

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF women's volleyball team's first effort against Conference USA leader UAB came up short Friday night from The Venue at UCF as the Blazers (16-2, 6-0) topped the Knights (11-6, 3-3), 3-1 (25-16, 18-25, 21-25, 22-25). Both teams return to the floor Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

"UAB showed tonight why they are the No. 1 team in the league," head coach Todd Dagenais said following the match. "You don't win 12 matches in a row on accident, and I think coach (Kerry) Messersmith would tell you they didn't play their best tonight, but they did enough to win. That's the sign of a mature team.

"I feel like we were better today than we were against Marshall and I think we will be better tomorrow than we were today," Dagenais added. "We have a lot to play for with 14 matches left in the season, and we can still accomplish all of our goals we had set forth. Right now it's about getting used to the new lineup on the floor and people assuming responsibility for their play on the court."

Competing without freshman Kayla Keller (San Antonio, Texas) who went down with an ankle injury last weekend, the Knights were still able to total 47 kills on the evening with sophomore Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) leading the way (13) and freshman DeLaina Sarden (Lawrenceville, Ga.) continuing her assault on the league with her fourth-straight double-digit kill effort (10).

Senior setter Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ontario) continued her strong play in 2011 with her eight double-double of the year with 43 assists and 10 digs. The Canadian native has now tied her double-dip total from the 2010 season.

Working on upping their blocking numbers during practice this week, the Knights saw the fruits of their labors as they racked up a season-best 13 total blocks. Sarden led the way with four block assists and two blocks solos while teammates Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ontario) and Ashley Gailenios (John's Creek, Ga.) chipped in with four swats each.

"I thought the strong blocking helped out our defense a lot," Dagenais said. "I think it is something we can certainly build on."

The Knights jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the match after taking the first frame, 25-16. UCF outhit the Blazers .226 to .056 in the stanza, and received kills from five different players. Behind the strong serving of Vukson, UCF went on a 7-0 run to pull away from the Blazers.

Junior Meredith Murphy moved up the all-time dig list quickly in the first set after securing her 1,232 dig on the second ball to her, passing Lindsey Whalen (2000-03) for No. 2 all-time at UCF. The Austin, Texas, native closed out the match with a team-best 25 digs, tying her season-high mark.

After dropping the first set, UAB responded with a 25-18 win in the second frame. The Knights would keep it close in the third and fourth stanzas, but the potent attack of outside hitter Ally Slaughter and middle blocker Sam Serley kept the Knights at bay. The duo totaled 28 of UAB's 55 kills with 14 apiece.

Aside from the play on the court, 288 fans showed up donning pink to support the Dig For The Cure campaign with money from each dig in the match going to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Foundation. The two squads totaled 134 digs on the night.