Sept. 30, 2012
By Andrew Jennette
GREENVILLE, N.C. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF volleyball team put together a tremendous defensive performance on Sunday afternoon as it swept East Carolina (25-15, 25-16, 25-11) to earn its second conference road victory of the season.
The Knights (5-11, 2-2) set two new season-bests defensively as they held the Pirates (1-15, 0-5) to just 27 kills and zero service aces. UCF picked up 65 digs, which is the most on the season in a three-set match. The Black and Gold also outhit ECU .276 to .041.
"Just over the last week and a half, this team has started to show signs of growth. I thought it started after UTEP heading into the Tulane match, said head coach Todd Dagenais, who returned to the bench after missing the previous two matches. That great competitive mindset has been there the last three matches.
To not be discouraged by the tough loss at Marshall and to come down here to East Carolina, a place that we've struggled to win, we put together as complete of a match as we've had all year and probably our best match since the middle of last season in terms of execution, Dagenais continued. I give a lot of credit to Michelle and Nicky. They took complete responsibility for the last three matches and got the team ready to play as well as they've been ready to play all year long."
The Knights return to home action next weekend as they host SMU on Friday and Tulsa on Sunday. This is the first of three home weekends for the Knights in conference play.
UCF got a great combined effort from its front line as middle blockers DeLaina Sarden and Tory McCutcheon combined for 22 kills on 29 attempts with just two errors for a combined .689 attack percentage. For the second-consecutive match, the Knights had four players with double-digit digs. The Black and Gold averaged a season-best 21.6 digs per set with redshirt freshman Kayla Keller leading the way with 15.
The Knights played one of their best defensive frames of the season in set one as they picked up 24 digs and held ECU to just a .073 attack percentage en route to taking the stanza, 25-15. UCF jumped out to an early 9-3 lead and maintained that lead throughout. Sarden was very efficient in the middle as she picked up five kills on six attempts with no errors for a spectacular .833 mark.
Trailing 5-4 early in the second stanza, the Black and Gold rattled off seven-consecutive points to go up 11-5. Another five-point scoring run on the arm of McCutcheon put the set out of reach as the Knights took the frame, 25-16. McCutcheon had three kills, but it was Sarden who once again led the charge with six in the period.
Carrying a two-set lead, the Knights kept the pedal to the floor and surged to an early 6-1 advantage that it would never relinquish in the third frame as they took stanza, 25-11. Sarden led the team in kills for the third-consecutive set as she picked up three more kills to give her a team-best 14 on the match.