Nov. 17, 2012
TULSA, Okla. - Playing in the Conference USA tournament for the first time in two seasons, No. 6 Marshall fell to No. 3 UCF, 3-1 (28-26, 15-28, 20-25, 21-25), in the first round on Friday night in the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
The Thundering Herd ends the 2012 season with an 18-13 (8-8 C-USA) record, marking the most wins since going 22-9 in 2009. UCF improved to 15-14 (11-5 C-USA) with the win and will go on to face No. 7 Houston in the semifinals at 6 p.m. ET tomorrow.
"This is a proud program," said head coach Mitch Jacobs. "We've won a lot and we've had a lot of injuries which have caused us some tough years, but this group right here really brought a lot of pride back in it. Just sitting in that locker room, I knew I was with a group that I'm so proud of.
"The adversity, with the seven matches they lost in a row - just to turn that around and win two to keep going. We feel like our tournament started last weekend because if we don't win those two, we're not in. I'm just proud of turning things around and getting momentum back."
C-USA All-Conference selection Laura Der led Marshall with a match-high 23 kills, using a .270 hitting percentage. She also added 14 digs, giving her 18 double-doubles for the season.
Middle blocker Sacha Byous-McConnell followed with 12 kills and posted a .280 hitting percentage.
Setter Sammie Bane totaled 42 assists and was able to add two kills and a block.
On defense, senior Katy Schad ended her last match at Marshall with a career-high 26 digs. She finished her four years with the Herd with 1,147 digs, tying her for fifth all-time in Marshall's history for career digs.
Der, along with freshman Jillian Shemanski, led Marshall at the net with four blocks apiece. Marshall totaled 7.0 blocks, compared to UCF's 10.0. Libero Dorothy Rahal added 17 digs from the back row, helping Marshall book 66 digs.
UCF won the service game, earning five service aces, compared to Marshall's two. Unforced errors hurt the Herd as Marshall recorded 11 service errors, while the Knights finished with just five.
Three Knight players earned double-digit kill counts and Evija Vilde led with 17. Marie Reiterova ended the night with 52 assists. On defense, Meredith Murphy finished with 14 digs and DeLaina Sarden totaled six blocks.
"We're going to miss Katy Schad and Andrea Snipes-Booker," summed up Jacobs after the match. "Those two are amazing, but we'll move forward. We have a heck of a group and we are ready to go."