Aug. 26, 2012
By Andrew Jennette
TAMPA, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The annual battle on the volleyball court between UCF and USF once again lived up to the billing Sunday afternoon from The Corral at the Sun Dome. For the second-consecutive season, the Knights (0-3) battled the Bulls (1-2) for five sets on the last day of the host school's tournament. The Bulls held off a furious rally from the Knights to hold on for the victory, 3-2 (25-23, 25-27, 19-25, 25-23, 13-15).
The two programs will continue to play on an annual basis when UCF joins the BIG EAST next season.
Playing the Bulls for the 69th time in program history, the Knights tallied season-highs in kills, digs, assists, blocks and hitting percentage while showing marked improvement offensively. Senior Evija Vilde had a huge effort as she recorded 21 kills on 46 attempts with just two errors for an outstanding .413 attack percentage.
The Knights also got double-digit kills from redshirt junior Angelica Crump (14), sophomore DeLaina Sarden (13) and sophomore Ashley Gialenios (12) marking the first time in head coach Todd Dagenais' tenure that UCF had four players register 12 or more kills in the same match.
"This is one of those kinds of matches that every team should have to play in the preseason when you're trying to get ready to accomplish your goals for the regular season, Dagenais said. Obviously it's sour for us to be on the wrong end of a close match, but I feel we've vastly improved over the weekend.
I think defensively we still have a long way to go, but offensively we found some rhythm for the first time this weekend and I think it's something we'll going to build on quickly, Dagenais added. We have to give South Florida credit. They came up with some big individual plays.
The Knights got off to an explosive start, hitting .359 and registering 20 kills in the first frame. Redshirt sophomore Marie Reiterova dished out 20 assists in the set, and finished the afternoon with a career-high 64 and 12 digs for her third-consecutive double-double to open the season. The 64 assists were the most by a Knight since Lauren Rosenthal's 67 in 2008.
Trailing the entire first set, UCF scored six-consecutive points to turn a 22-18 deficit into a 24-22 lead that it would not relinquish. With Reiterova directing the offense, the Knights showcased a balanced attack with five players registering at least three kills with Crump and Gialenios leading the way with five apiece.
UCF had a serve to win the second stanza, but the Bulls rallied back with three-straight points to take the frame, 25-27. USF used that momentum to score eight-consecutive points early in the third set to take a nine-point lead. The Knights battled back and cut the lead down to three, but ultimately fell, 19-25, and 2-1 in the match.
The Black and Gold stormed back in the fourth set with 16 kills while hitting .303. Vilde picked up seven more in the frame and was backed by three from Sarden. The sophomore middle blocker finished the match with a .375 attack percentage as she retained her team lead in that category.
UCF held a 9-7 lead in the final frame thanks to two kills apiece from Vilde, Crump and redshirt sophomore Kaye-Alese Green, but the Bulls scored the next four points and closed the match out on an 8-4 run to seal the win.
USF out-dug the Knights, 75-66, while hitting .281 for the match. The Bulls were paced by Valerie El Houssine's 20-kill and 15-dig double-double.