Nov. 17, 2012
By Andrew Jennette
TULSA, Okla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Despite hitting its lowest attack percentage in the last month, the UCF volleyball team kept grinding and swept Houston (25-23, 25-22, 28-26) to advance to the finals of the Conference USA Volleyball Championship at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Saturday. The Knights (16-14, 13-5) advanced to their first C-USA final in program history and are one win away from an automatic berth into the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship.
Sophomore DeLaina Sarden led the offensive attack with 12 kills, including back-to-back daggers in the third set to finish off the match, and four blocks. Senior Evija Vilde smacked 11 kills and hit three services aces, giving her 28 kills in the tournament thus far. Sophomore Marie Reiterova picked up her second double-double in the tournament with 43 assists and 12 digs.
Redshirt freshman Kayla Keller continued her excellent defense from the outside-hitter position with 12 digs. Senior Meredith Murphy extended her consecutive-digs streak to 18 matches with a team-best 17 while also chipping in with two service aces.
I think we had a lot of put-backs where we hit into their blocking but we knew it's coming back to our side to recover, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. That's how we were able to get so many more swings than they did. The reality was tonight was that this match was one of those quirks of volleyball where we got out hit, out dug and out blocked and still found a way to win by taking all the hidden points and all the toughness points. We closed out every single set like a team vying for a championship should do. They made some errors, but we created a lot of their errors. Those kinds of points don't show up in the stat sheet.
You look at Tulsa and it has the best player in the league in Tyler Henderson, Dagenais continued. It has the best libero in the league in Jessica Adams. It has one of the top setters in the league as well as the top supporting cast in the league. You look it on paper and they should have the advantage against anyone they play against. Fortunately this game isn't being played on paper, it's being played on the court and we feel like we still have our best match in front of us in this tournament.
UCF hit just .155 (49-25-155) while allowing the Cougars to maintain a .171 attack clip (41-20-123). Despite the disadvantage in attack percentage, the Black and Gold were able to get off 32 more swings which allowed them to kill eight more points which proved to be the difference in the match. UCF dished out 48 assists compared to Houston's 38, and had six service aces compared to just three allowed.
The Knights will face Tulsa tomorrow in a 2 p.m. tilt in the finals of the C-USA Championship. UCF upset the Golden Hurricane, 3-1, at The Venue on Oct. 7, handing Tulsa just its third conference loss since the 2009 season. The match will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network and up-to-the-minute scoring can be found at the 2012 Women's Volleyball Championship Tournament Central.