ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Despite battling back from a 2-1 deficit to Liberty in the title match of the Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic, the UCF volleyball team fell to the Flames (6-1), 3-2 (25-15, 23-25, 23-25, 25-21, 14-16) in a thrilling five setter at The Venue at UCF Saturday.
It was a back-and-forth battle all night that featured emphatic spikes and grueling defense. Both teams hit under .200 while the Knights bested the Flames in kills (68-53), digs (85-71) and assists (61-48).
"I really feel bad for the players," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said following the loss. "They are taking this hard and they feel like this is a carbon copy of the South Florida match and lightning has struck twice. I told them we have to get into the gym and get better. They have to forget the mistakes and move on. I told them that's a team (Liberty) that is going to win 27 matches. It'a well-organized, extremely well-coached and well-led team. They just have a little bit more experience in those types of situations than we do right now."
"We are going to get it," Dagenais added about his team figuring out who they are early in the year. "There is no doubt that we are on a path to where we need to go. It's just going to take time to get there and I am preaching patience."
Redshirt sophomore Angelica Crump made her second all-tournament team this year, and sixth of her career, while senior Tory McCutcheon was also named to the all-tournament squad.
UCF will hit the road for the first of two back-to-back weekend tournaments beginning Friday, Sept. 7, when it takes on Sacred Heart in the SHU Hampton Inn Shelton Invitational in Fairfield, Conn.
It was another fast start for the Knights in the first set behind the powerful arms of senior Evija Vilde and Crump. The duo smashed four kills apiece, and fueled a 6-0 run to give UCF a 13-7 advantage and the lead for good. The defense dug out 19 balls, including six by senior Dani Harrison who finished the evening with 17.
The second set saw the Knights come back from a 16-10 deficit thanks to an 8-1 run and eventually take a 22-20 lead. Liberty would respond by winning five of the next six points to claim the set and even up the match at 1-all.
In the third set, it was another back-and-forth struggle with the two squads both hitting under .100. The set was tied at 16 and 22-all before the Flames once again prevailed by a score of 25-23.
Trailing 5-1 in the fourth, UCF called a timeout to get back on the same page. The tactic by Dagenais worked as his squad seized momentum and eventually rattled off nine-consecutive points to take a commanding 17-9 lead with sophomore Ashley Gialenios at the stripe. Sophomore DeLaina Sarden and Crump, who finished with 23 combined kills, ended the fourth with emphatic spikes to send the match to a fifth set.
Liberty took charge in the fifth with an 8-3 lead before the Knights fought back and eventually tied the set at 12-all. Despite owning a match point at 14-13, the Flames caused three-straight attack errors by UCF hitters to take the match and tournament.
On the night, redshirt sophomore Marie Reiterova notched her fourth double-double of the 2012 campaign with a 38 assist, 17-dig effort. Senior Meredith Murphy led the team with 23 digs.
UCF volleyball season tickets are currently available, beginning at $30. Attendance at UCF volleyball is also a great way to celebrate birthdays, corporate outings or any special occasion. Please ask about our group packages today. Fans of Olympic sports should be sure to ask about our GOLD PASS. With a GOLD PASS, you receive season admission to six UCF sports for just $90. For more information and to place an order, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com.
Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic All-Tournament Team
MVP: #21 Loren Thomas, Liberty
#9 Ansley Gebben, Liberty
#10 Caroline Douglas, Liberty
#9 Tory McCutcheon, UCF
#14 Angelica Crump, UCF
#17 Sammie Strausbaugh, JU
#6 Caitlin Brenton, Columbia