ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Meeting many of its goals that were laid out at the start of the season, the UCF volleyball team is keeping its hopes alive at attaining its ultimate goal for 2011: a trip to the NCAA Tournament. In order for the Knights (18-10, 10-7) to make that goal a reality, they will have to go through one of the toughest stretches in their schedule as they travel to Tulsa, SMU and UTEP beginning Friday.
UCF will play three contests in five days, the first time that it has played more than two-consecutive matches on the road since Sept. 2-3 at the Florida Gulf Coast Homewood Suites Invitational when it swept then-No. 3 USC, Furman and host FGCU.
The Knights are looking to make it to the postseason for the first time under head coach Todd Dagenais and overall since 2003 when they advanced to the second round after a victory over Cincinnati.
"I talked to the team and said `Not only have we been waiting all year to get to the last weekend and have a chance to achieve something meaningful, we've been waiting four years to get into the last weekend where we can achieve something meaningful,'" Dagenais said. "There aren't many teams that go into that last weekend with hope, and we've got a chance."
The first stop for UCF will be at Tulsa Friday night at 8 p.m. where the Knights last won in 2008. Earlier this season, Tulsa earned a 3-1 victory inside The Venue in Orlando and has since gone on to clinching the Conference USA title with a 16-1 record in the league. Both offenses look to be on their way to a shootout as the Golden Hurricane ranks fourth in the nation with 14.99 kills per set and the Knights coming at No. 25.
"Every single person in their serve/receive is very low error and everyone in their attack is low error. So what they do is say that this is who we are, and they just score like no other," Dagenais said of Tulsa. "It's going to come down to having to score a lot of points and beating them in a shootout."
The Knights will then travel to take on SMU Sunday at 2 p.m. inside Moody Coliseum, a venue that the Knights have yet to win at since joining C-USA. UCF earned its first-ever win over the Mustangs in league play back on Sept. 23 when it swept 3-0 behind a strong defensive effort that held SMU to .090 attack percentage for the match.
Following the tilt in Dallas, UCF will travel to El Paso, Texas, to finish out the season against a Miners team that is tied with SMU for sixth place and only one game back of the Knights. The 9 p.m. match on Tuesday will have UCF looking to make it three-straight wins over UTEP inside Memorial Gym, and six-consecutive in the series. Back on Sept. 16, the Knights swept the Miners in their first C-USA match of the season.