Thrashing Tulane

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - Fueled by a .297 hitting percentage the UCF volleyball team opened its penultimate home stand with a resounding 3-0 win over Tulane on Friday night (25-18, 25-23, 25-21). The Knights (14-13, 7-8) found their rhythm early on offense and defense, never trailing the Green Wave (13-15, 2-13) by more than one in any set.

UCF hit above. 240 in all three frames. Alli Sabol notched a season-high for a three-set match with 12 kills to lead the way. The Dublin, Ohio, native was efficient with a .522 clip at net. Kia Bright struck for 10 kills to go along with 10 digs. Anne-Marie Watson recorded a .417 attack percentage with six kills and Kristina Fisher added a mark of .280.

While the offense was in the groove, the defense was relentless. UCF rejected 12 Green Wave attacks, led by eight from Taylor Wickey. Jeanne Westney and Sabol blocked four balls apiece. The Knights held Tulane under .200 hitting in two sets. Jordan Pingel was all over the court, registering a team-high 15 digs. Miranda Watkins joined Bright with 10. The Black and Gold serve receive held their own against Tulane. The Green Wave came into the match averaging 5.25 aces per match, but the Knights limited the visitors to just two.

* After Tulane scored the first two points of the match, the Knights struck for eight straight.
* UCF hit a match-high .382 in the opening set.
* Kristina Firsher was flawless with six kills on 10 swings with no errors.
* On the defensive side, the Black and Gold blocked four balls.
* Following the initial run, the Knights never allowed the Green Wave to close within six the rest of the way

* Tulane responded in the second with 17 kills and a .261 hitting percentage.
* The Black and Gold stepped it up on defense with five rejections.
* Setter Erin Olson had six of the Knights' 22 digs.
* With the set tied at 19-19, a Westney kill and a Wickey solo block provided just enough space for the Knights to take the game.

Head Coach Todd Dagenais after the match.
Opening statement...
"I thought we did some great things offensively. Erin and Miranda made terrific decisions. Jenny Maurer put together a great game plan. We used the right balance and distribution. It was a methodical win for us. The blocks were a pleasant surprise. To go out there and get four blocks in the first set alone, that was a nice job of the outside blockers lining up on the keys. I thought our serving was tremendous. It kept them out of system. I thought those transition points were the difference. It was an important win as we eye our goals toward the end of the season."

On Alli Sabol's performance...
"I thought Alli took advantage of a matchup that we wanted her to get. That was the first time that Alli has run with a good matchup. She really took charge. She did a great job."

On the high sideout percentage...
"The sideout percentages in the first and third set were very good. We have been spending a lot of time on our first ball kill. I thought it paid off more so in decision making. The setters were reading what the block was doing. The hitters were finding the seams. We knew if we beat the block, we'd have a pretty decent chance of scoring. We beat them with velocity and just enough tip shots."

On the passing of his father...
"Obviously, this was a challenging week. Although not unexpected, my dad passed on Wednesday during the bulk of the prep time. I was nervous to go out there tonight and be my best. I felt good. I know my dad loved this program almost as much as the Green Bay Packers. He watched us on his tablet everywhere we played. He followed us around before he got really sick. He was a huge fan of our program, our team and our school. He was always proud that his son was involved with a university. He was at NCAA Tournament games. My thoughts are really with my mother and my brother at home. My father was very explicit that I do not miss a practice, a game or anything anymore. The service will be put back until after Christmas, because he didn't want the season interrupted because of him. That's just the kind of guy he is."

UCF will face Houston on Sunday at 1 p.m. The match is Parents Day and Military Appreciation Day.

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