By Megan Herboth
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (UCFKnights.com) - Despite capturing the opening set win, the UCF volleyball team suffered its first American Athletic Conference loss of the season, falling to Temple, 3-1 (25-14, 19-25, 17-25, 20-25), at McGonigle Hall on Sunday afternoon.
I want to congratulate (Temple) on a terrific win today, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said They deserved to win this match. While this is not the outcome that we wanted as a program today, it wasn't for lack of effort or lack of caring.
UCF (20-6, 13-1 AAC) opened the day with a kill from senior Kaye-Alese Green. The Knights used a kill from senior DeLaina Sarden, an ace from senior Marie Reiterova and a block from senior Loren Cory to jump out to a 6-1 lead. Sarden forced Temple to use a timeout as her kill gave UCF an 8-2 lead. Out of the huddle, she tallied another kill, which Cory followed with a kill of her own to give the Knights a 10-2 lead.
Junior Abbie Fleener used a big swing in the first set to put the Black and Gold ahead 16-7 and force a second timeout for the Owls. A late five-point run from Temple was not enough to close the gap for the Owls. Consecutive kills from Sarden and sophomore Jale Hervey gave UCF the 25-14 opening set win.
The Knights found themselves up 9-4 in the second set after senior Jade Hayes served up back-to-back aces. The Owls used a 5-2 run to knot the set at 15, but sophomore Kia Bright pushed the Knights in front with a kill. Falling behind, 21-19, the Knights used their second timeout of the set, but Temple claimed the 25-19 set win on a 5-0 run.
The teams played a tight third set, matching each other kill for kill. Bright pulled the Knights with Temple at 8-8, after the Owls had gone ahead 8-6, but Temple pushed back in front. Fleener gave the Knights a 15-14 advantage, but the Owls turned in a 4-0 swing to create distance between the teams. Sophomore Taylor Gallart closed the gap and pulled the Knights within one, 18-17, but Temple closed the set with a 6-0 run to win the third set, 25-17.
Sarden opened the fourth set in UCF's favor, and the Knights paired Sarden's kill with a Temple miscue to take a 2-0 lead. The Owls came back to tie the set at four and take an 11-5 lead to prompt a UCF timeout. Finding themselves down 22-13, the Knights went to work. Green and Bright teamed up for a block and UCF closed the gap, 22-18, to force a Temple timeout. A Temple service error and a kill from senior Ashley Gialenios slowed the Owls, but Temple handed UCF its first conference loss of the season with a 25-20 fourth set win and a 3-1 match victory.
I never saw us give up, Dagenais said. I saw us keep playing and never shut down. That's the resolve the team's had all year long and a lot of times it's been enough to push back and win the set. Temple was just executing at too high of a level for us to sustain runs and climb back into it.
DeLaina Sarden led the Knights with 13 kills on 16 swings for a .688 hitting percentage. Kia Bright and Kaye-Alese Green each finished with nine kills and three blocks, and Bright recorded 12 digs. Jade Hayes tallied a match-high 16 digs and served up a team-best two aces. Sophomore Shelby Foyer finished with 12 digs and an ace for UCF. Junior Dana Faught posted a double-double, dishing out 20 assists and tallying 10 digs.
The Knights return to The Venue for a pair of American Athletic Conference matches next weekend. UCF hosts Tulsa at 3 p.m. on Friday and SMU at 1:30 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.