By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The 2014 American Athletic Conference champion UCF volleyball team returns to The Venue to face Cincinnati in one of its final two matches of the regular season.
UCF (23-7, 16-2 AAC) will be presented with The American championship trophy immediately following the match and all fans are encouraged to stay for the ceremony. Wednesday's match is also Parents Night, with all members of the team being escorted to the match by their families.
"Not only will we be honoring our parents (Wednesday) night for Parents Night, but we get to have a trophy presentation and be officially crowned champions of the league after the match," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. "I would encourage all of our fans to come out for that and be a part of the trophy presentation because they are such a big part of our success this year."
Due to the men's basketball game in CFE Arena limiting Garage F parking, volleyball fans are encouraged to park in the grass lot next to the UCF Baseball field.
"We are in our regular season schedule," Todd Dagenais said. "No sleep, lots of work and video. Our season is still going. We may have won the championship, but we still have work to do."
Last weekend the Knights clinched their first conference title and automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with a pair of wins at Tulane and Houston. UCF earned its first title and will be making its first NCAA appearance since 2003.
In the latest NCAA RPI, the Knights moved to 33rd overall, ahead of a combined 38 teams form the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac 12.
UCF holds a 5-1 lead in the all-time meetings against Cincinnati, including a 3-0 win over the Bearcats in Cincinnati in October. Cincinnati is 15-15 overall, with a 7-11 mark in The American. The Bearcats sit in sixth place in the conference standings.
"(Cincinnati's) new lineup is a challenge for us in a short week," Dagenais said. "The coaches have worked really hard and really late to try to get what they can together. For us, it's just going to have to be a game of adjustments. We're just going to have to adjust to the new people on the floor."
Cortnee Bowser averages 1.81 kills per set while hitting .329 for Cincinnati. Me'Ashah Nicholson is hitting .302 with 2.30 kills per set and has 106 blocks on the season. Caitlin Ogletree averages 7.45 assists per set and has served up 20 aces on the season. Jamie Netisingha averages 4.52 digs per set.
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 .290 as a team this season.
UCF also holds the top spot in assists (13.71) and kills (14.47). The Knights rank fourth in blocks per set (2.11).
Senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden's .449 hitting percentage is the best among conference players. Senior Kaye-Alese Green's .430 hitting percentage ranks second in the league. Sophomore Jale Hervey ranks fourth in kills per set (3.46) and fifth points (3.86). Senior Marie Reiterova ranks ninth with 6.53 assists per set, while senior Jade Hayes ranks ninth with 4.01 digs per set.
A pair of Knights have hitting percentages above .400 this season. Senior middle blockers DeLaina Sarden and Kaye-Alese Green lead the Knights with .449 and .430 hitting percentages, respectively.
UCF is one of just three teams with two players hitting above .400. Stanford and Wyoming also have a pair of over .400 hitters. UCF is one of just two schools with two players who rank in the top ten in hitting percentage.
Sophomore outside hitters Kia Bright and Jale Hervey have made immediate impacts since joining the UCF volleyball team this fall. They have combined to lead the team in kills in 24 of UCF's 30 matches this season.
Hervey leads the team with 3.46 kills per set and has tallied double figure kills in 21 matches this season. She has only finished with fewer than six kills on one occasion this season.
Bright has never finished with fewer than five kills in a match in which she was a starter. Dating back to her freshman campaign at Auburn, she has made 40 starts and finished with at least five kills in the match. This season, she has only finished with fewer than seven kills once and has finished in double figures in 19 matches.
UCF Volleyball is presented by Radisson- UCF Area. For more information on how to purchase tickets, visit UCFKnights.com or call 407-UCF-1000.