Five Set Woes

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - The UCF volleyball team dropped a heartbreaking five-set match on Sunday afternoon in The Venue. The Knights (10-10, 3-5) won the opening two sets, but Temple roared back out of the intermission to take the final three frames (16-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-13).

After dominating on defense on Friday against UConn, UCF put on an offensive clinic in the opening two sets with clips of .452 and .395. Kristina Fisher finished the day with a double-double of a team-high 20 kills and 11 digs. Kia Bright and Alli Sabol joined Fisher in double-figure kills with 17 and 10, respectively.

Four Knights recorded double-digit digs, led by Jordan Pingel with 20. Bright chipped in with 15 for her 12th double-double of the season. Miranda Watkins checked in with 11 digs to add to her 27 assists. Fellow setter Erin Olson tallied 31 dimes in the loss.

UCF controlled the first two sets with just six errors and three service aces. The Owls (10-6, 6-2) stepped up their play in the back row, averaging 16 digs per set in the third, fourth and fifth games.

The Knights flew out of the gates in the opener, hitting .452 to the Owls' .167 clip. Fisher started strong with six of UCF's 16 kills. Five players hit above .300, which contributed to an 11-3 run in the middle of the set. Olson notched two service aces.

In the second, both sides were tied at 6-6 early. UCF took the lead on two kills by Alli Sabol and a Fisher block. The three straight points ignited an 11-4 run for the Knights. Temple managed to close the gap late, but the set was already secure for the Black and Gold.

Out of the break, Temple found new life. The visitors flipped the script to hit .341 and hold the Knights to an .054 attack percentage. Both clubs traded points through 13-13, but the Owls pulled a game back by finishing on a 12-3 run.

After falling behind early in the fourth, the Knights battled back to stay within reach. Every time UCF put a pair of points together to cut into the deficit, Temple responded with a run of its own. Bright powered the offense for the Black and Gold with six kills. UCF registered a .277 hitting percentage to the Owls' .324.

The momentum swung back in favor of the Knights midway through the fifth. With the scores even at 6-6, Taylor Wickey hammered a kill through the block, before Temple committed back-to-back errors. UCF extended its lead to 11-6 on a Fisher kill and a Wickey, Anne-Marie Watson block. Out of a Temple timeout, the Owls completed the comeback on a 9-2 run.

The Knights hit the road next weekend for a pair of American Athletic Conference matches at Houston and Tulane.

Head Coach Todd Dagenais after the match...
Opening statement...
"One of the toughest things to do is to find a way back from trailing 2-0 on a Sunday on the road. You can certainly tell that they have some seniors who were hungry when it mattered. We're still a team that's trying to learn and execute in those situations. We didn't do as well as they did. They were two points better than us on the scoreboard where it mattered most."

On facing the pressure of playing in five sets...
"We live every match like that. We've had a lot of matches this year where it has been two or three flips of a coin. That's volleyball. The difference between 25-22 and 22-25 is three swings of the ball. We live our lives like that in practices and matches. It's only exemplified in front of a crowd at a match where it matters. It's something that you have get used to functioning in that situation."

On the change of momentum...
"My feeling is that we lost a little bit of confidence. Our immaturity as a whole got afraid that we were losing that confidence. We were a little timid and that cost us the third set. Temple pushed back hard, which is expected of an experienced team like that. There's nobody madder than our players. They're looking for answers. There's a bunch of little things that we need to do a little bit better. If we do those things better and get more confident, we're going to win more matches.

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