Five Set Friday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UCFKnights.com) - For the second straight week, the UCF volleyball went to five sets to defeat an American Athletic Conference opponent. Facing a 2-1 deficit after the third set, the Knights (9-6, 2-1) rallied to take the final two games and defeat Memphis on the road (23-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-13, 15-7)

Freshman Kristina Fisher caused fits for the Tigers (7-8, 0-3) defense all night long. The rookie tallied 20 kills in addition to a block assist. Setter Erin Olson set a career-high with 55 assists, the most by a Knight since Marie Reiterova's 56 against Cincinnati on Nov. 17, 2013.

Kia Bright extended her streak of double-doubles to five in a row, with a 17 kill, 27 dig performance, the latter being a new career high. UCF posted a .266 hitting percentage, never falling below .219 in a set.

On the defensive end, the Black and Gold recorded 10 blocks and held the Tigers to a .191 clip at the net, including limiting Memphis to .065 and .000 in the fourth and fifth games, respectively.

In the opening set, the Knights benefited from Memphis miscues. The Black and Gold scored just two of their first nine points. Up 10-8, UCF fell on the wrong side of a 9-1. A Taylor Wickey, Anne-Marie Watson block and a Kristina Fisher kill brought the Black and Gold back to within four at 18-14. The Knights nearly completed the comeback, holding off four set points, before the Tigers closed out the game.

Very little separated the two teams in the second, trading point through 9-9, but from that point on, Fisher took over. The freshman hammered five of the Knights' final 15 points of the set and finished with a .294 clip at the net.

Memphis scored five straight to take a 10-5 lead to start the third. UCF cut the deficit to one after five straight points, including two kills from Fisher and a Jeanne Westney, Watson block. The Tigers finished the set on an 11-6 run.

The Knights kept the match alive with a dominant performance in the fourth, jumping out to a 15-8 lead, before the hosts could respond. Wickey and Bright combined for 11 kills, as UCF hit a match-high .344. The block also rejected a trio of Tiger attacks in the fourth.

The fifth set was a carryover of the previous game. After trading points, Olson came up with back-to-back service aces to open a 5-2 lead. Two kills by Westney bookended a Bright kill to take an insurmountable 8-3 lead into the switch. Three points on Jordan Pingel's serve helped close out the match.

The Knights will travel to No. 25 Wichita State on Sunday for the first ever matchup between the two programs. Start time is set for 1 p.m.

* Fishers' 20 kills were just one shy of matching her career high set on the road at Central Arkansas.
* Mary Kate Painter earned the first start of her career. She finished with six digs.
* Kat Felice played in all five sets, dropping in an ace on her first serve of the night.
* Watson locked down the Memphis attack with a career-high seven block assists.

* The Knights outscored the Tigers 40-20 over the final two games.
* UCF limited Memphis to an .036 clip at the net in the fourth and fifth set.
* The Black and Gold scored three straight points on six different occasions in the final two sets.

Head coach Todd Dagenais after the match.
On the match...
"I'm really happy that we won on the road. I'm proud of how this team battled in the tough spots. They didn't come out as strong as they wanted to, but they stayed patient and found their rhythm in the second. Looking at the stats, it was nearly a tie. We stayed low error when we needed to the most.

"This team has faced a lot of adversity this season, and I think it's built a layer of toughness around them. When we get into crazy situations, they remain calm and find a way to get through it."

On the play of the freshmen...
"They are starting to understand that they don't have to be heroes. When they get in a match, they have to do their job and not try to win it alone. Kat went in and did a nice job as a serving specialist. It was good to see her perform well in a regular role. MK (Painter) got the first start of her career and did well in the backcourt. She always bring fantastic energy to the team, and that made its way onto the court tonight. That positive energy really made a difference in the match."

"For Kristina, we've watched her grow up and mature this season. She's started to take on more responsibility in the offense. She's starting to get that terminator mentality that we recruited her for. She's able to take a lot of swings, and not for Kia to do everything. Those two really play well off each other."

On the play of Olson...
"She was learning and getting comfortable running a 5-1. She was smart with her sets tonight and made it difficult for Memphis to key in on her. Her sets were the reason that Kia, the middles and Kristina has such great success. She used what Memphis gave us and helped us remain low error.

On facing No. 25 Wichita State...
"Getting a road win always builds you up. We know we're going into the house of a top-25 program that was picked to win our conference. We're not new to this situation. We faced Colorado State on the road and had some chances to beat them. Our players are comfortable playing next to each other and knowing what their roles are. Having an opportunity to face a ranked team is something you want as a volleyball player and we want to play our best on Sunday."

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