By Megan Herboth
Manhattan, Kan. - The UCF volleyball team claimed its fifth win of the season and the first road victory of 2014 with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-17, 19-25, 25-18) win over Middle Tennessee at the Varney's Invitational, hosted by Kansas State in Bramlage Coliseum on Friday afternoon.
"This was a match where the players went out and won the points that they had to," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. "When you're on the road, you have to do those things. (Senior middle blocker) DeLaina Sarden carried us in a lot of ways."
The Knights opened up with a lead early in the first set, but the Blue Raiders came back to tie the set three times. Sarden hit .833 in the first set with five kill as UCF held off a late rally and scored the final three points, including a service ace from sophomore Kia Bright to claim the first set. The teams followed a similar pattern in the second set, only trailing once before going on a 4-0 run to close the set.
UCF faced some adversity in the third set, as a lineup issue forced several Knights to play out of position. The Knights and Blue Raiders battled back and forth, exchanging leads five times throughout the set, but ultimately Middle Tennessee claimed the first set victory against the Knights this season.
Coach Dagenais praised his team for their response in the fourth set. Using a kill from Sarden and a solo block by sophomore Jale Hervey, UCF jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth set. A run from Middle Tennessee pulled the Blue Raiders within two, 8-6, before the Knights went on a 9-0 run to put the match out of reach. Fittingly, a Sarden kill gave the Knights the 3-1 victory.
"I'm really proud of how the players handled being on the road for the first time and I'm really proud of how they handled adversity," Dagenais said.
Sarden finished the match with 14 kills while hitting .565. Kia Bright added 11 kills and seven digs. Senior libero Jade Hayes recorded her fifth match with double-digit digs, finishing with 16. Senior middle blocker Kaye-Alese Green had six kills on seven attacks for a .857 hitting percentage in the match.
Dana Faught and Marie Reiterova combined for 45 of UCF's 52 assists, as Faught finished with 23 and Reiterova recorded 22.
UCF Volleyball, which is presented by Radisson - UCF Area, returns to action against Arkansas at 6:00 p.m. in Varney's Invitational action at Bramlage Coliseum.