Nov. 4, 2011
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By Eric DeSalvo
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFAthletics.com) - A clean sweep of Memphis was not in the cards for the UCF volleyball team as it dropped the second of two-straight matches in the River City Friday night. The Knights (16-10, 8-7) split the back-to-back series with the Tigers (16-12, 5-10) after the home team claimed a 3-1 (20-25, 25-15, 26-28, 23-25) win at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.
"Memphis came out tonight with the resolve and the intensity like their season was on the line, and they played like it was the most important match of the year," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "I thought for the most part we responded well, but at several points of a set, they responded better. I really feel like we made them beat us in the first and the third set. We forced them to get a lot of kills to beat us in those set. Along with the fact that they were able to get that many kills shows that we weren't blocking a playing defense with the same level of skill and focus that we did on Thursday night.
"I think the most important thing that we need to do right now is not allow this loss to ruin our focus on what we still have in front of us," Dagenais added. "This is going to be one of those matches that we have to forget about as soon as possible and work extra hard to finish the season strong."
After stumbling out of the gates and dropping the first set, 25-20, UCF bounced back in a big way to claim the second stanza, 25-15. The Knights separated themselves early in the set after going on an 8-0 run to take an early 9-2 lead behind junior Meredith Murphy's (Austin, Texas) stellar serving. UCF's offense took off in the second, out-killing the Tigers, 15-8, and limiting the home team to .062 in the frame.
Down 6-12 in the third set, UCF put together an impressive 9-0 with junior Dani Harrison (Tallahassee, Fla.) at the line. Memphis would crawl back into the frame despite a 17-13 deficit and battled past the Knights to a 28-26 victory. Sophomore Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) blasted six of her 17 kills in the frame, and senior Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ontario) hoisted 11 helpers, but the Memphis duo of setter Hajnalka Molnar and outside hitter Altrese Hawkins combined for 13 assists and six kills, respectively.
The fourth set saw the Knights up 23-20, but the Tigers continued to chip away, closing out the match on a 5-0 run. Hawkins led the way for Memphis with 18 kills and Molnar dished out a match high 50 assists.
For the second-straight match, the Knights out-blocked the Tigers and were led by junior middle blocker Tory McCutcheon. The Milton, Ontario, native tied a career-high with seven block assists to help the team secure 11 total blocks on the night. Murphy totaled a match-high 20 digs from the libero position.
UCF will return home for its last home series of the 2011 season when it welcomes Marshall and East Carolina next Friday and Sunday.