By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Efficient offensive execution led to senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden earning American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades for the second straight week, and gave UCF the weekly individual honor for the third consecutive Monday.
"The numbers that DeLaina put up this weekend were almost otherworldly," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. "Most importantly, she was able to put up these numbers against the second- and third-place teams in the conference on the road. It could not have come at a better time for us. She has been so dependable as a player, teammate and team leader."
Leading the Knights to a pair of road wins that improved UCF to 8-0 in The American, Sarden hit a team-high .634 on the weekend. With a team-high 29 kills, Sarden brought her career total to 1,061 and moved into ninth on the all-time UCF career leaderboard. Defensively, she posted a team-high 12 blocks, averaging 1.50 blocks per set, and tallied 10 digs in two matches.
In Friday's five-set win over Memphis, Sarden led the charge in the third set, having a hand in five of UCF's first six points in the set. She hit .500 in the battle of the conference's top two teams, finishing with 13 kills and seven blocks. On Sunday, Sarden hit .789 in the sweep of Cincinnati, which is the sixth-best hitting percentage in a match in UCF Volleyball history. She led the team with 16 kills on 19 swings and tallied five blocks.
The Lawrenceville, Ga., native picked up the fifth American Player of the week honor of her career and gave UCF its fourth conference accolade this season. Sophomore Jale Hervey earned the first honor of the season and sophomore Kia Bright opened the string of Offensive Player of the Week honors for the Knights two weeks ago.
After a stretch of four road matches, UCF Volleyball (15-5, 8-0 AAC), which is presented by Radisson - UCF Area, returns to Orlando for a pair of matches at The Venue this weekend. The Knights host Houston at 7 p.m. on Friday and Tulane at 2 p.m. on Sunday.