Nov. 27, 2013
By Andrew Jennette
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFKnights.com) -The UCF volleyball team was left with a bad taste in its mouth after giving up a two-set lead on Senior Day last weekend. However, the Knights returned the favor on Wednesday night by rallying from a 0-2 deficit for the first time this year to defeat Memphis (22-25, 11-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-8) at Elma Roane Fieldhouse. With its 20th win, the Black and Gold matched its most successful season in head coach Todd Dagenais' six-year tenure.
The Knights (20-11, 11-6 The American) played one of its poorest individual sets of the season against the Tigers (14-17, 6-11) in the second as they hit -.062 as a team with more errors than kills. Dagenais and staff challenged the team not to roll over after intermission and the group responded beautifully, hitting .324, .362 and .348 over the final three frames. UCF out hit the Memphis .250-.237 overall and committed eight fewer errors.
Tonight we showed more composure, grit and determination than we have in any match all year long, Dagenais said. I'm proud that despite the fact it's late in the season and our bodies and mind are tired, that we chose the tougher route of fighting to the end rather than giving up. That was a really special thing to see.
UCF put together a balanced effort offensively as four players eclipsed double digit kills, led by 15 apiece from juniors DeLaina Sarden and Ashley Gialenios. Fellow junior middle blocker Kaye-Alese Green tied her career-high with 12 kills and senior Angelica Crump chipping in 11 kills on a team-high 45 swings. Junior opposite Loren Cory just missed the double-digit club with nine kills while chipping in four digs and a block.
Junior setter Marie Reiterova spread the ball around very effectively, dishing out 50 assists and chipping in 14 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Defensively, junior libero Jade Hayes recorded a team-high 26 digs while senior Roxy Mendez and freshman Shelby Foyer each contributed on the back row with 13. Sarden led the charge at the net with a team-high eight combined blocks.
It's no secret how the game of volleyball works, Dagenais continued. You can have great middles, which we have, but they can't win a match for you because you just can't get them enough swings. The outsides have to find ways to put balls away consistently, which they did tonight. I stuck with Ashley because I know deep down there's no other player on this team that wants to win more than her. Just like she did at UConn a few weeks ago, Ashley came up huge tonight.
The Knights will travel on Thanksgiving and will wrap up the 2013 season in Philadelphia with a 7 p.m. match against Temple.