ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) -The UCF volleyball team will wrap up the month of September when it ventures back onto the road for a pair of Conference USA matches against Marshall and East Carolina this weekend. The Knights will be playing their eighth and ninth road matches of the month, the most in head coach Todd Dagenais’ tenure.
The Knights (4-10, 1-1) will take on the Thundering Herd (12-5, 2-1) Friday night at 7 p.m., and then travel to Greenville N.C., to face the Pirates (1-13, 0-3) Sunday at 1 p.m.
Dagenais is well aware of how tough this road trip has been on his team in the past. The Knights earned the first victory in school history at ECU last season after coming up short in their previous six chances and have yet to secure their first win at Marshall since joining the conference in 2005.
“Marshall is just one of those places that’s hard to get to and hasn’t always been a comfortable setting for us. We always seem to battling some sort of adversity when we travel there, but that’s ok,” Dagenais said. “East Carolina is struggling right now, but again, that is another place we haven’t had much success and we can’t take anything for granted.”
The first stop for the Knights will be in Huntington, W.Va., against Marshall. Searching for its first win inside Cam Henderson Center, UCF will be challenged by an aggressive Thundering Herd defense that ranks No. 1 in opponents hitting percentage at a stellar .168 clip. Marshall has also been strong in the serve and receive game as it also leads the conference with 88 service aces.
After the tilt with the Thundering Herd, the Knights will travel 450 miles southeast to East Carolina for another tough weekend showdown. UCF swept ECU in two meetings last season as it earned the program’s first win at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The Pirates come into the match with a struggling offense, ranking last in C-USA in kills and attack percentage, but an above-average defense led by senior middle blocker Kelly Derby who ranks second in conference with 65 total blocks.
Last weekend, the Black and Gold earned a split in their opening weekend of C-USA play as they were defeated at home, 3-0, by UTEP in VolleyBowl V. UCF bounced back to earn its first conference road win of the season by defeating Tulane, 3-1, in New Orleans.
Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Green Wave showcased a stingy Knights’ defense as they held Tulane to just a .169 hitting percentage and recorded a season-high 12 blocks. Senior Tory McCutcheon had five block assists and picked up four kills on a perfect 1.000 attack percentage in the victory.