By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. - With her final kill of the night, senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden joined an elite group, becoming just the 10th UCF Volleyball player and the third middle blocker to reach 1,000 career kills in UCF's 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 25-16) win over Temple on Friday evening at The Venue.
"[DeLaina] was always a player that we knew was going to be special for us," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. "To hit 1,000 kills as a middle (blocker) is a challenge and I'm really happy for her."
"It's a tremendous accomplishment," Sarden said. "[Being at UCF] has really allowed me to grow as a player and that showed tonight. I'm proud of this achievement."
The Knights improved to 10-5 overall and remain undefeated in American Athletic Conference action, standing at 3-0.
"I think this was a pretty complete conference win tonight," Dagenais said. "To have four hitters that hit in excess of .300 is a pretty good job. I thought our setters made excellent choice and our hitters put the ball away."
UCF got off to a slow start in the opening set, as Temple (10-5, 1-2 AAC) opened up with the first two points of the night. The Knights soon turned things around, scoring three points on kills from senior Kaye-Alese Green and junior Abbie Fleener and a block from sophomore Kia Bright, which gave UCF its first lead of the night. Though Temple battled back to knot the score at eight, the Black and Gold responded with another scoring run, taking a 20-13 lead on a combined block from Green and Fleener. Senior Marie Reiterova set sophomore Jale Hervey up for the kill to give the Knights a 25-17 opening set win.
The Owls opened the second set in a similar fashion, scoring the first three points. The Knights battled back and tied the score at nine. Trailing Temple by four, 13-9, UCF went on a 7-1 run to take a 16-14 lead. The Owls closed the gap with a kill of their own, but the Knights finished strong with a 9-2 run to close out the set. Green's kill scored the set point, 25-17, and gave UCF a two-set lead in the match.
The Knight flipped the script in the third set, as Green put UCF on the board first with a kill. After trading points, the teams were deadlocked at four before Bright knocked down a kill and senior Jade Hayes served up an ace to put the Knights in front. UCF pushed out to a 16-9 lead, prompting a Temple timeout, but the Knights carried the momentum out of the huddle. Sarden brought the crowd to its feet as her eighth kill of the night put UCF up, 21-13. Hervey kept the crowd going with a pair of kills that gave the home team the 25-16 set win and the straight set match victory.
"I thought the team really did a nice job of sticking to the game plan," Dagenais said. "I was a little concerned about our slow starts, which is something that we'll have to address."
UCF hit .414 in the second set and .425 in the third to finish with a .327 team hitting percentage. The Knights held the Owls to a .100 team hitting percentage, well below Temple's season average.
Bright led the Knights with 15 digs and 14 kills, hitting .462. Hervey finished with 13 kills and hit .345 in the match. Sarden hit .467 with eight kills and served up a match-high three aces. Green tallied five kills with no errors in nine attempts for a .556 hitting percentage. Hayes recorded 10 digs and a pair of aces on the night while sophomore Shelby Foyer finished with 10 digs and an ace. Junior Dana Faught recorded 23 assists, while Reiterova finished with 20 assists.
Next up, the Knights host UConn at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
UCF Volleyball is presented by Radisson- UCF Area. For more information on how to purchase tickets, visit UCFKnights.com or call 407-UCF-1000.