By Megan Herboth
GREENVILLE, N.C. - UCF Volleyball set an American Athletic Conference match record as the Knights hit a season-best .444 in a 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-20) win over East Carolina in Minges Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. Earning the fourth conference road win of the season, the Knights improved to 13-5 overall and are a perfect 6-0 in The American.
I thought we were a much more comfortable attacking team, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. It's a challenge to go on the road and be low-error. We came in; we had our game plan. We handled our business and we executed our offense efficiently.
UCF used a combination of kills from senior DeLaina Sarden and East Carolina miscues to take a 7-4 lead in the opening set. The Pirates closed the gap slightly, as back-to-back kills made it 12-10 in favor of the Knights. Kills from Sarden and senior Kaye-Alese Green gave UCF a larger lead and prompted a timeout for ECU. Back on the court, Green and sophomore Jale Hervey teamed up for a block that put the Knights up 19-14. An ace from senior Marie Reiterova forced East Carolina to use its second timeout of the set, but the Black and Gold remained focused after the break. Sophomore Kia Bright's kill closed the set, 25-18, in favor of the Knights.
An early three-point run by the Pirates gave ECU a 5-3 lead in set two before sophomore Shelby Foyer served up an ace to start a 7-0 run for the Knights. Bright tallied UCF's second ace of the set to give the Black and Gold an 18-9 lead. Sarden served up back-to-back aces to put the Knights a 22-10 advantage and force an East Carolina to use a timeout. The Knights kept the momentum out of the huddle and Green tallied a pair of kills to give UCF a 25-12 win in set two.
After trading points to open the third set, East Carolina used a pair of kills to take a 7-5 lead. UCF answered with a pair of kills from senior Loren Cory and another kill from Hervey to take an 8-7 lead. Hervey's kill proved to be the push the Knights needed. ECU challenged UCF, pulling within one, 13-12, before kills from Sarden and Cory extended the lead for the Knights. Junior Abbie Fleener forced an ECU timeout with a kill that put the Knights up 20-17 and followed the break with a second kill to make it 21-17. Bright closed out the match with a kill that gave UCF a 25-20 third set win and a straight set match victory.
I thought our defense was a step slow today, Dagenais said. But, I thought our serve-receive and our offense made up the difference and then some. Blocking-wise, we did an outstanding job of making it difficult for (ECU's) primary hitters to score with any regularity.
The Knights used .476 and .486 hitting percentages in the second and third sets, respectively, to hit .444 for the match, setting an American Athletic Conference record for a conference match. The Knights held the Pirates to a .212 hitting percentage as a team.
Loren Cory recorded a season-high nine kills while hitting a season-best .643 to lead the Knights. Jale Hervey, Kia Bright and DeLaina Sarden added eight kills for UCF. Kaye-Alese Green tallied seven kills and recorded a match-high five blocks, including three solo blocks. Bright led UCF with 10 digs. Marie Reiterova tallied 22 assists, while junior Dana Faught finished with 18 assists.
Next up, the Knights are back on the road to play Memphis and Cincinnati. UCF faces the Tigers at 8 p.m. on Friday and the Bearcats at 2 p.m. 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.