By Megan Herboth
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - In a night of celebration for the UCF volleyball team, the Knights kept the crowd excited in the 3-0 (25-21, 25-9, 25-21) win over Cincinnati on Wednesday evening at The Venue. Following the match, UCF was presented with the 2014 American Athletic Conference championship trophy.
Amid all of the hoopla, we played a really good match tonight, UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said Our offense was just on fire. Our setters followed the game plan to an absolute T; the distribution, the balance. Everything that we wanted to do was exactly perfect.
UCF (24-7, 17-2 AAC) opened Parents Night by walking out on the court with their families. Once the teams took the court, it was a back-and-forth battle with the Bearcats, tying the score six times with three lead changes. The Knights forced Cincinnati to call a timeout as a kill from sophomore Jale Hervey gave UCF a 12-9 advantage. A kill from sophomore Kia Bright was followed by an ace served up by senior Jade Hayes to push it to a 17-14 UCF lead. Cincinnati made a late push, as a 5-2 run pulled the Bearcats within one, 21-20. A pair of Hervey kills put the Knights in control and senior Marie Reiterova tipped the ball to secure the 25-21 opening set win.
Cincinnati opened the second set with a kill, and tied the score at 2-2, but the Knights took over from there. Kills from seniors DeLaina Sarden and Kaye-Alese Green, along with an ace from Sarden gave UCF a 7-2 lead and forced the Bearcats to call a timeout. UCF continued its dominance out of the huddle, putting together four-point runs to keep the set out of reach. Freshman Halle Scott made her first conference appearance, serving up a pair of points for the Knights. A block from Hervey and Green gave the Knights a 23-9 advantage. Sophomore Nahely Molina earned her first time on the court, setting up junior Abbie Fleener's kill and serving up the final point of the set as the Knights cruised to a 25-9 win in the second. UCF hit .696 for the set, with 19 kills and no attack errors.
The teams kept the third set tight, with six ties and four lead changes. After Cincinnati took a 6-5 lead, Green started a 4-0 UCF run that featured a kill from senior Ashley Gialenios and an ace from sophomore Shelby Foyer to give the Knights a 9-6 lead and forced a Bearcats timeout. Hervey gave UCF an 18-11 lead on a kill, but Cincinnati used a 7-1 run to pull within a point, 19-18. UCF attempted to put some distance between the teams, but the Bearcats battled to keep it close. A block from Sarden and senior Loren Cory pushed UCF's lead to three, 23-20 and forced a Cincinnati timeout. A Bearcat attack error set up match point, but Me'Ashah Nicholson kept the match going with a kill. Sarden and Cory teamed up again to deliver the match-winning block and give UCF the 25-21 set win.
Jale Hervey led the Knights with 13 kills and four blocks. DeLaina Sarden had nine kills on 13 swings for a .692 hitting percentage and finished with four blocks. Kia Bright and Kaye-Alese Green each tallied eight kills for UCF and Shelby Foyer posted a team-best nine digs .
The Knights host Memphis on Senior Night at The Venue on Friday. UCF's home finale is slated for a 2 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.