Sept. 2, 2011
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By Eric DeSalvo
FORT MYERS, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team completed the most significant win in program history Friday afternoon with a three-set sweep (25-16, 25-20, 25-22) of No. 3 Southern California in the Homewood Suites FGCU Invitational at Alico Arena. This is the first victory of a ranked opponent since the Knights (3-1) joined Conference USA in 2005.
UCF head coach Todd Dagenais couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to play USC, and is thrilled that his team was able to come through against one of the nation's elite programs.
"We have so much respect for Southern California and their volleyball program," Dagenais said about his former employer. "Here we are going into the match just trying to build something special so that one day we can put ourselves in the league such as a USC who has done it year in and year out. We still strive to be a program like them. Obviously it was a nice milestone for us. They are who we would like to be someday, so it was an honor to play them and we are thankful for that opportunity."
The Knights bested the Trojans (1-2) in almost every statistical category in their first of two matches on Friday. UCF had the advantage in kills (53-31), hitting percentage (.351-.135), assists (48-27) and digs (50-35) that aided the Knights in their monumental win.
Junior Evijia Vilde (Riga, Latvia) and sophomore Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.) led the Knights in kills with 15 apiece. Vilde connected on .429 of her attempts, and Crump totaled 16.5 points in the match.
Freshman Kayla Keller (San Antonio, Texas), starting for the first time in her career, made quite a splash against the Trojans. She totaled 12 kills with a .269 hitting percentage and chipped in with 13 digs for a double-double in her collegiate debut. Senior Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ontario) nabbed her second-straight double-double for the Knights with 42 assists and 10 digs.
Although his team put on a solid all-around performance, Dagenais knows that this victory is a total-program effort.
"This win is a total program effort," Dagenais said. "It's not just for the people that are here right now, but for those who were here prior to this year. There are three years of teams who paid the price for us to have an opportunity like this, and those are the people we want to include in this."
With the Knights having to face a tough Furman squad at 5 p.m., the Knights have little time to celebrate their win, but Dagenais knows that his team will come out focused.
"We have to turn around and get ready to play Furman who beat a Big 10 team last week," Dagenais said. "We don't get to enjoy this win like some other sports do, but that is the nature of the beast in this sport. We will have to find a way to meet that challenge."
Follow the action live from Fort Myers through live stats at FGCUAthletics.com