By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF volleyball team will hit the road for the first time this season as the Knights head to Manhattan, Kan., for the Varney's Invitational hosted by Kansas State.
UCF (4-0) returns to action after claiming the Radisson UCF Invitational title without dropping a set all weekend. The Knights hit above .330 in every match and finished the weekend with a .360 hitting percentage and 22 team blocks.
Sophomore outside hitter Jale Hervey was named the tournament MVP and the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week following a 60-kill performance on the weekend. Senior libero Jade Hayes recorded a tournament-best 80 digs to earn all-tournament accolades. Senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden tallied 13 blocks and sophomore outside hitter Kia Bright notched 43 kills to join Hervey and Hayes on the all-tournament team.
UCF holds a collective 1-3 record against Middle Tennessee, Arkansas and Kansas State. All four of the matchups occurred prior to Coach Dagenais' arrival at UCF.
The Knights open the tournament against Middle Tennessee. UCF claimed a 3-0 victory in the only meeting between the two teams. Middle Tennessee (1-3) is led defensively by Jacqueline Lux who had 58 digs for an average of 3.87 digs per set this season. Chelsea Ross has a team-high 51 kills and Rachel Shaughnessy is one of three players with double-digit blocks, leading the team with 19.
Arkansas leads the series against the Knights 2-0, including a 3-0 decision in the last meeting in 2002. Arkansas is receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll following a 3-0 sweep at the Arkansas Invitational. Meredith Hays leads the Razorbacks with 36 kills and 3.27 kills per set. Monica Bollinger leads the team with 41 digs, while Chanell Clark-Bibbs recorded a team-high 18 blocks over the weekend.
The Knights and Kansas State meet up for the second time, with the Wildcats claiming a 3-2 win in the 1981 meeting. The host school returns to campus with a 2-1 record after finishing as the runner up at the Green Bay Country Inn & Suites Tournament. Five Wildcats have 15 or more kills this season, while six players have 12 or more digs.
The Varney's Invitational will be held inside Bramlage Coliseum, home of K-State men's and women's basketball. The venue has not hosted a regular season Wildcat match since 2005, but Kansas State is 4-0 in Bramlage Coliseum.
UCF Volleyball is presented by Radisson- UCF Area. Season tickets are also available for $30, good for one general admission seat to all 2014 regular season home matches. Youth (ages 2-17 years) season tickets are on sale for $15. The GOLD Pass, which includes one general admission seat for all home men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, softball, women's basketball and track & field events, is available for $90. For more information on how to purchase tickets, visit UCFKnights.com or call 407-UCF-1000.