By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Fresh off a pair of strong weekend performances, UCF Volleyball gears up for the first meeting of the season against in-state rival USF in Tampa on Wednesday.
"This is going to be one of our most unique tests of the year," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. "It's our first opportunity to play a rival school on their floor, which is always a challenge."
The Knights stand at 11-5 overall record and 4-0 record in The American, the only team unbeaten in conference action. After sweeping both Temple and UConn over the weekend, UCF gained votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The Knights posted their highest team hitting percentage of the season in the win over UConn, an efficient .404 for the match.
UCF travels to USF for the 72nd meeting in the series. The Knights trail the Bulls, 45-26, in the all-time meetings, but swept both of last season's match-ups. USF stands at 8-8 on the season, with a 2-2 mark in The American.
"USF is one of those teams that is known for its defensive prowess," Dagenais said. "They are one of those teams that does not let a ball drop. Offensively, they have the ability to spread the ball around as well."
USF is led by Erin Fairs, who averages 3.90 kills per set while hitting .252. Fairs also leads the Bulls in aces (22) and digs (218) and has 34 blocks this season. Jennica Mullins leads the conference with 76 blocks, nine of which are solo. Mullins averages 1.27 blocks for the Bulls.
Leading The American
UCF leads the American Athletic Conference in three categories, including hitting percentage. The Knights are hitting .282 as a team this season. UCF also holds the top spot in assists (13.75) and kills (14.57). The Knights rank third in digs (15.84) and fifth in blocks per set (2.08).
After a pair of all-round performances over the weekend, sophomore outside hitter Kia Bright was named The American Offensive Player of the Week. Bright earned her first weekly honor, while UCF picked up its second of the season.
The NCAA released the first volleyball RPI on Monday and UCF is ranked 28th in the first ranking, the highest ranking for the Knights.
The Black and Gold are also ranked 28th in the Rich Kern RKPI and are the second team in the Midwest region.
By the Numbers
UCF ranks seventh in the nation with 13.75 assists per set. The Knights' 14.57 kills per set ranks 10th in Division I this season, while their .282 hitting percentage ranks 12th.
Individually, senior Kaye-Alese Green ranks 21st with a .411 hitting percentage. Senior DeLaina Sarden's .380 hitting percentage ranks 43rd in the nation.
Sarden's .363 career hitting percentage ranks seventh among active players. With 387 total blocks, Sarden ranks 22nd on the active player career leaderboard and her 1,009 career kills ranks 80th.
Senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden became a member of an elite UCF Volleyball group with her final kill of the night in Friday's sweep of Temple. She became the 10th player in UCF Volleyball history to reach 1,000 career kills and the third middle blocker to reach the milestone. She currently sits in tenth on the UCF Volleyball career leaderboard with 1,009 kills during her tenure as a Knight.
UCF Volleyball is presented by Radisson- UCF Area. For more information on how to purchase tickets, visit UCFKnights.com or call 407-UCF-1000.