Aug. 28, 2010
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By Sarah Tarasewicz
FT. MYERS, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF (3-0) volleyball team finished the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament undefeated Saturday afternoon after winning its third-consecutive match with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-15) blanking of Bethune-Cookman (0-3) at Alico Arena.
"I was proud of the way the team followed the exact game plan that we said we were going to put forth," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "It is always a positive that we do what we talk about doing and that we actually break down an opponent the way that we planned."
After also opening the 2009 season with three wins, the Knights have posted at least three-consecutive wins to open a year in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the squad achieved the feat in both 1978 and 1979.
Junior Kristin Fisher (Clearwater, Fla.) led all players with 16 kills and hit a season-best .387, while both Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) and Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) added seven kills for the Knights. Vilde also posted a pair of blocks and Crump had a block solo.
"Kristin was outstanding the entire weekend both as a player and as a leader. Her leadership allows us to be competitive in any game against any team," Dagenais said. "Evija continues to force opponents to defend us antennae to antennae, and eventually that will open up a lot of opportunities for our middle hitters.
"Angelica continues to conduct her role on the offense," Dagenais continued. "I think it is not fair for us to expect her to be the dominating hitter in the first month of her collegiate season that we know she is going to be at the end of her first collegiate season. She is certainly somebody opponents need to pay attention to."
Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) had her best outing of the young season against the Wildcats, hitting .625 with five kills and a team-high three total blocks.
Playing in her first collegiate match, freshman Marie Reiterova (Luxembourg, Luxembourg) guided the offense with 35 assists, while also contributing five digs, three kills, a block and a service ace.
"It was nice to see Marie get her first collegiate action," Dagenais said. And it was also good to see Brittany go in for us when we needed to change things up."
The Black and Gold had 42 total kills, while Bethune-Cookman had only 30. UCF also had six service aces, with the Wildcats not able to break the Knights' back-court defense with an ace.
With 14 digs, sophomore Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas) was the main component of UCF's successful defensive play. The libero continues to extend her streak of double-digit dig outings, with Saturday's performance being her 12th-straight.
"I thought Bethune-Cookman gave us a lesson today about what can be accomplished with heart and desire," Dagenais said. "Vanessa has her team likely playing at the highest level it has ever played and they do it on grit and intensity. I think that every college volleyball team could stand to take a page out of their book.
"We were able to win this match based on physicality," Dagenais continued. "But, there were several stretches where we had a hard time matching their intensity. Before the match, I told the team that Bethune-Cookman has a way of making you feel really bad about yourself because of the savvy in which they play with, and that is exactly what happened today. They went out there and did so many things that we didn't have an answer for, fortunately we were able to go back and side out on the next play and neutralize the previous points."
UCF now holds a 17-0 advantage over Bethune-Cookman in the all-time series and had won 23-consecutive sets in the squads' last eight meetings. The last time UCF dropped a set to the Wildcats was in the second set of a meeting in 2002.
The Black and Gold continues one of its two six-match road stretches in Wilmington, N.C., at the UNC Wilmington Hilton Garden Inn/Courtyard by Marriott Classic next weekend. During the tournament, the Knights will face the host Seahawks, UNC Greensboro and South Carolina State.
Season tickets are now available for purchase for only $30 online at UCFAthletics.com or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000. The Knights are set to host 13 regular-season matches at The Venue at UCF this season, which includes 10 Conference USA contests.