By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF volleyball team heads north this weekend for a pair of American Athletic Conference matches. The Knights face UConn at 7 p.m. on Friday before taking on Temple at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
UCF (19-5, 12-0 AAC) takes a 12-match win streak into the weekend and remain undefeated in conference play. The Knights look to complete the season sweeps of both teams after earning straight set wins over both programs at The Venue.
As a team, we're really looking forward to this trip to the Northeast, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. On the competitive side of it, I think (this weekend) poses a significant challenge for us.
The Knights defeated USF in a midweek battle last Wednesday. After UCF earned the first two set victories, the Bulls came back to tie the match and force a fifth set. UCF dominated set five for the Volleybowl VII win. The Knights turned around to produce a straight set win over East Carolina on Friday.
The Knights face the Huskies for the second time this season and look to complete the season sweep of UConn after a 3-0 win at The Venue. The last time the two teams met, UCF hit over .400 as a team while limiting UConn to a .079 hitting percentage. The Huskies are 10-13 on the season, with a 3-9 mark in The American.
(UConn's) offense mirrors ours in some ways, Dagenais said. In some aspects, it's a little easier to prepare because it's a lot like playing ourselves. We have to keep them out of system.
Immanuella Anagu leads the Huskies with 2.52 kills per set while hitting .319. Twelve of her 87 blocks have been solo denials. Devon Maugle and Brianna Datti each have 21 aces this season, while Datti averages 4.44 digs per set.
UCF faces the Owls for the second time this season and look to complete the season sweep of Temple after a 3-0 win in The Venue. The Owls stand just behind the Knights in the conference standings. Temple has won eight of its last nine matches, all coming after falling to UCF, 3-0. Temple stands at 18-6 on the season, with a 9-3 mark in The American.
This is probably going to be our biggest challenge since going to SMU, Dagenais said. I don't think there's a team hotter in conference right now than Temple. They're going to play well, play inspired and play hungry.
Kirsten Overton leads Temple with a .415 hitting percentage and averages 2.41 kills per set. Ten of her 69 blocks have come solo this season. Tyler Davis leads Temple with 3.15 kills per set. Sandra Sydlik paces the Owls with 10.91 assists per set and has 23 aces this season.
The American Leaders
In addition to sitting at the top of the conference standings, UCF leads the American Athletic Conference in three categories, including hitting percentage. The Knights are hitting .294 as a team this season.
The Black and Gold also hold the top spot in assists (13.81) and kills (14.61). The Knights rank fifth in blocks per set (2.12).
Senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden leads the league with a .431 hitting percentage and is one of three Knights that rank in the top ten. Senior Kaye-Alese Green's .412 hitting percentage ranks third in the league, while junior Abbie Fleener's .309 hitting percentage ranks ninth in the league. Sophomore Jale Hervey ranks fourth in kills per set (3.64) and points (4.09).
On the Rise
One week after setting the longest streak of receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll, the UCF volleyball added another historical milestone in the poll. In the sixth consecutive week of receiving votes, the Knights moved up the second team receiving votes, No. 27 in the poll, which is the highest ranking in program history.
In the NCAA RPI rankings, which were released on Monday, the Knights moved in to 29th and have the best ranking among The American teams. The Black and Gold are ahead of a combined 38 teams from the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12..
UCF has opened the American Athletic Conference season with a 12-match win streak. The Knights opened the streak by snapping preseason favorite SMU's 11-match win streak.
Not only have the Knights posted the best start to conference under Coach Dagenais, but UCF's 12 consecutive wins is the best since 1997, when the Knights won 22 straight matches.
UCF is one of five schools that is currently undefeated in conference action and ranked in the top 30 in the RPI.
In addition to the Knights being undefeated in The American, Pac-12 schools Stanford and Washington along with Florida (SEC) and FSU (ACC) stand unbeaten in league play.
UCF Volleyball is presented by Radisson- UCF Area. For more information on how to purchase tickets, visit UCFKnights.com or call 407-UCF-1000.