ORLANDO, Fla., (UCFKnights.com)--After dropping the first set to Southern Illinois, UCF Volleyball rallied back to win the next two sets. Unfortunately, the Black and Gold were unable to close out the match and fell in a 3-2 (19-25, 31-29, 26-24, 25-27, 10-15) decision to the Salukis on Friday evening.
"This is one of those matches, where last week we faced a top-50 team and we were able to overcome and get a win," said head coach Todd Dagenais. "This week, we stepped in the gym with a top-40, maybe even a top-30, team and played them as tight as you could without winning. I think our team grew a lot and we showed a lot of character. We just came out of it on the wrong side this time."
UCF went toe-to-toe with SIU, but dropped the first set. The Knights opened the second set swinging as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead. They continued to hold a lead until the Salukis tied it up at 15-15. The two teams went back and forth, with UCF having six set points before claiming the second set. In the third, the Knights started on a 3-1 run, before the Salukis called a timeout and came back out swinging. From that point on it was never more than a two-point difference between the teams. The Black and Gold took the set third set 26-24, leading the 2-1 in the match.
In the fourth set, the Knights found themselves at within two points of match point against the Salukis. SIU closed the set, 27-25 to force the match to a decisive fifth set. UCF was unable to contain the Southern Illinois down the stretch, falling 15-10.
Six Knights had more than six kills on the evening, including Ann Richards, Jeanne Westney and Taylor Wickey. Jordan Pingel had 24 digs, while Farah Rajaee and Miranda Watkins shared equal time recording 28 and 31 assists, respectively.
Senior Jalé Hervey and redshirt junior Kia Bright both recorded double-doubles on the evening. Hervey posted a season-high 24 kills and 15 digs while Bright tallied 10 kills and 14 digs. Hervey also logged three aces.
The Knights have two more matches in the Saluki Invitational. Saturday at 11 a.m., they will take on Northern Arizona, followed by Western Michigan at 5:30 p.m.