By Megan Herboth
Manhattan, Kan. - The UCF volleyball team battled but came up short as Kansas State claimed the Varney's Invitational title with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 26-24) win over the Knights in Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday evening.
We went into a fantastic volleyball environment, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. We had to compete against a top team, their fans, their band and their student section. Our team did every single thing we asked them to do to put themselves in a position to be successful. We just didn't get the one or two extra kills where we needed at the end.
UCF (6-1) scored the first point of the night on a kill from sophomore Kia Bright, but the Wildcats scored four consecutive points to take a 4-1 lead. Senior Loren Cory's back-to-back kills put the Knights back in front 9-7, but K-State tied the score four plays later. Each time UCF looked to go ahead, the Wildcats had a response. Cory and senior Kaye-Alese Green combined for a block, while sophomore Jale Hervey notched a pair of kills to pull UCF within four, 22-18, but K-State claimed the final three points to take the first set.
After hitting just .054 in the first, UCF came back to hit .250 in the second set. Green, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the charge. She tallied five kills on six attempts to hit .833 in the set. Sophomore Kia Bright added four kills and recorded the first solo block for the Knights in the second. Despite UCF's adjustments, the Wildcats held on and went ahead 2-0 in the series.
K-State jumped out to an early 10-5 lead in the third set, but UCF refused to quit. The Knights fought back, taking advantage of Wildcat miscues to take a 15-14 lead. A solo block from Green put the Knights up 17-15, but the Wildcats denied UCF. The Knights forced the decisive third set into extra points before dropping their first match of the season.
Nothing had come easy at all tonight, Dagenais said. Our players tried hard and had opportunities, but we ran into a defense that played us really well.
Bright led the Knights with 11 kills and two solo blocks. Green finished with eight kills in the match while hitting .538. Hervey added eight kills for the Knights Senior libero Hayes earned her second straight all-tournament accolade, as she finished with 17 digs.
Senior Marie Reiterova finished with 18 assists and six digs for UCF, while junior Dana Faught recorded 12 assists on the night.
Up next for UCF Volleyball, which is presented by Radisson - UCF Area, is the 26 West Classic, hosted by No. 3 Texas, Sept. 12-13 in Austin, Texas.