Nov. 24, 2013
By Andrew Jennette
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Sunday was an emotional day for the UCF volleyball team both on and off the court as the program celebrated the outstanding careers of its two seniors, Angelica Crump and Roxy Mendez, but also dropped a draining five-set match to Houston (25-13, 27-25, 19-25, 22-25, 14-16) on Senior Day at The Venue.
The Knights (19-10, 10-6) sprinted out to a 2-0 set advantage before the Cougars (18-14, 10-7) stormed back to take games three, four and five to earn the victory. Both teams hit the ball well as Houston produced a .245 attack clip, while UCF hit .242. The Black and Gold had more kills and more digs than the Cougars, but they were slightly more error prone, 26-21, and were unable to make enough plays in serve/receive as they allowed six aces while only hitting three.
Junior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden was absolutely dominant as she set new career highs in both kills (23) and attempts (39). The Lawrenceville, Ga., native has played in every single set for the Knights this season and is looking to become an AVCA All-American for the second-consecutive year. Sarden has a made strong case all season as she has amassed 368 kills, 3.41 kills per set, .403 attack percentage, 28 service aces and 111 combined blocks in 29 matches played.
Despite the loss, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais was able to look back and reflect on how much his two seniors have meant to him over the last four seasons.
"Roxy's been a starter since her freshman year," Dagenais said. "We identified her as someone with defensive prowess and a never-say-die attitude. She's got a feisty personality and that's something we knew we needed on the floor. Those types of players are really tough to replace. She's made me proud and the program proud with her efforts. We knew when we recruited Angelica that she was one of the rawest athletes we've ever recruited. We brought her in knowing that eventually she was going to be a beast for us. She's been our primary L1 every match since her freshman year. I've asked more out of her off the court than any other player I've ever coached and she has been a consummate pro throughout it all."
Both Mendez and Crump each had their immediate and extended family members in attendance cheering them on and making their final moments at UCF all the more special.
"I feel like I've grown so much these last four years, not just on the court, but as a person," Crump said. "This team really is like a second family to me. I'm definitely going to miss these girls. Today wasn't what we wanted on the court, but the future is definitely bright for UCF volleyball."
Both seniors also showed tremendous poise by rising above their emotions to provide quality efforts for the Knights on the floor. Crump blasted 11 digs, came up with three digs and had one block assist. Mendez tied her career-high with 15 digs to go along with a service ace.
"I've learned a lot," Mendez said. "Things were pretty tough for me early on and I wasn't sure if I was going to be back after my freshman year, but I was lucky enough for Todd and his staff to take a chance on bringing me back. I'm so thankful for all of my teammates now and over the last four years."
UCF concludes its 2013 season on the road as it travels to Memphis on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. before ending its campaign at Temple on Friday night at 7 p.m.