By Megan Herboth
STORRS, Conn (UCFKnights.com) - Proving that thirteen can be a lucky number, the UCF Volleyball team used a 3-1 (25-16, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23) win over UConn in Gampel Pavilion to improve to 20-5 on the season and 13-0 in the American Athletic Conference on Friday night.
UCF is getting used to the fact that we're going to bring out the best in everybody that plays us, head coach Todd Dagenais said Tonight was no exception. I think the only thing that separates us right now is that we're finding ways to win matches. I thought the team responded well with their performance and with their play.
UCF opened the night with a 4-1 lead on kills from senior DeLaina Sarden and sophomore Jale Hervey, combined with a pair of UConn miscues. The Knights responded to a UConn run with a string of five straight points, including a service ace from senior Marie Reiterova, to take a 13-6 lead and force a timeout by the Huskies. After a second UConn timeout, Hervey gave the Knights a double digit lead, as her kill put UCF up 17-7. The Huskies went on a 4-0 run late in the set, but a kill from junior Abbie Fleener and an attack error by the Huskies secured a 25-16 win for the Knights in the opening set.
Senior Loren Cory opened the second set with a kill, but UConn used back-to-back kills from Hayley Cmajdalka and Kenya Cason to take a 4-1 lead. UCF pulled within one, 7-6, on a kill from Hervey, but the Huskies pushed out to a 14-9 lead on an ace and forced a timeout by the Knights. UCF was not able to pull any closer than three points down the stretch as UConn evened the match with a 25-21 win in set two.
In a repeat of the second set, Cory opened set three with a kill on a set from Reiterova. This time the Knights and the Huskies matched each other kill for kill. A kill from senior Kaye-Alese Green, followed by a block from Sarden and Fleener and a UConn attack error prompted a timeout by the Huskies with UCF up 14-7. Leading 19-14, the Knights used consecutive plays at the net to extend their lead. Green had a hand in all three blocks, beginning with a solo denial to put UCF up 20-14. Bright's kill gave the Knights a 25-19 set win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
I thought our offense really let us down in the third set, Dagenais said. Our defense bailed out our offense. That's the first time in a set all year that the defense has bailed out the offense. It's good to see that happen.
The Huskies claimed the first point of the fourth set, but the Knights quickly took a 6-4 lead on a kill from Hervey. UConn miscues forced the Huskies to use a timeout as UCF pushed out to a 16-11 lead. The Knights paired a kill from Bright with a ball handling error by the Huskies to take a 20-14 lead. UConn made a late push, using a three-point swing to pull within four, 22-18, and UCF responded with a timeout. Cory came out of the huddle with a big swing to extend the UCF lead and force a UConn timeout. Bright tallied the match point with a kill to secure the 25-23 fourth set win and the 3-1 victory for the match.
For the fourth straight match, Jale Hervey led UCF's offensive attack. She tallied 16 kills on 34 swings for a .382 hitting percentage. She recorded five digs and a pair of block assists in the win.
Jale's just become so reliable for us, Dagenais said. She was steady all match long and she has just absolutely become a rock for us.
Kia Bright tallied 15 kills and nine digs while serving up an ace for UCF. DeLaina Sarden posted nine kills on 13 swings for a .615 hitting percentage, serving up two aces and recording five digs. Senior Jade Hayes led the Knights with 15 digs, while sophomore Shelby Foyer recorded 10 digs and an ace. Marie Reiterova tallied 29 assists and five digs while junior Dana Faught finished with 21 assists and five digs.
The Knights complete the northern trip on Sunday. UCF faces Temple in an afternoon match slated for a 1 p.m. start.
UCF Volleyball is presented by Radisson- UCF Area. For more information on how to purchase tickets, visit UCFKnights.com or call 407-UCF-1000.