Stopped in the Second Round

ATHENS, Ga. (UCFKnights.com) - After reaching its first postseason tournament in two years, the 2017 season came to a close for the UCF volleyball team on Wednesday night. The Knights (20-14, 12-8 The American) fell in the Second Round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship to the University of Georgia on the road, 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-17).

The Knights gave the Bulldogs (22-11, 10-8) everything they could handle at the net. UCF recorded 13 blocks on the night, a season-high for three sets and the second most this year. The 13 rejections were the third most that Georgia has hit into in 2017. Jeanne Westney and Taylor Wickey each sent six balls back over the net. Anne-Marie Watson finished with five blocks, along with a career-high three from Kristina Fisher and two from Lache Harper. Kia Bright and Alli Sabol each had one apiece. Jordan Pingel tallied a team-high 14 digs.

Wickey, Kia Bright and Miranda Watkins powered the Knights for the final time in their careers. Bright registered eight kills, eight digs and a service ace. Wickey added a kill to go along with her team-leading tally in blocks. Watkins finished with a team-high 12 assists, five digs and an ace.

* The Knights finished the regular season on a six-match winning streak, the longest undefeated stretch to finish the regular season in the Todd Dagenais era, and extended it with a victory in the opening round of the NIVC against UNC Greensboro.
* UCF swept six of its final seven opponents, including a pair of dominant wins for six points in the War On I-4 over USF.
* Bright was sensational with 4.22 kills per set, and Fisher hit for 3.83 kills per set at a .343 hitting percentage.
* Wickey and Westney were undeniable forces at the net with 56 blocks and a .459 hitting clip.

* The Black and Gold achieved 20 wins for the fourth time under Dagenais and the 23rd time in program history.
* The Knights finished the year in the American Athletic Conference ranked third in hitting percentage, fourth in kills and fourth in blocks.
* UCF posted an 8-3 mark at The Venue and were the only team from The American to push No. 20 Wichita State to five sets.
* 20 matches into the season, the Knights were 10-10, but the Black and Gold went 10-4 over the final 14 matches and earned the program's 13th appearance to a postseason tournament.

Head Coach Todd Dagenais after the match.
Opening statement...
"My first thought is thanks to Brad Stricklin and Danny White for allowing us to be a part of this event. The NIVC was an important opportunity, especially for our younger players to play in a postseason format. You can't replicate the feeling you get in the postseason. Everything is heightened, and it's great that our players were able to experience that. We now know what we're working for in the offseason. We know what we have to do to put us into a positon to be in the NCAA Tournament."

On the block...
"Brian Doyon did a nice job with the defensive game plan. He had us lined up properly, and that allowed us to press them. We knew we had the ability to get blocks against Georgia. It put us in a position to score on the block. We also scored with our serve. Georgia used their athleticism to stop us on the attack."

On reflecting about the season...
"What comes to mind right away was when we were under .500 and knew we were better. I kept encouraging the staff and the team to trust the process. We knew that better days were ahead if we stayed the course. The players bought into the process, and no one stopped working hard. Things started to go our way. Once we started wining, we got our confidence back, and we played our way into the postseason."

On the seniors...
"Although it's tough to lose your last match, it's better to lose in the postseason, rather than the regular season. Our three seniors go out with a great memory of this experience and the knowledge that they earned that spot. They can hold their heads high and know they did something special, something that was uniquely different than any other team. We came back from being .500 and found a way to win matches and reach 20 wins. I'm incredibly grateful for the hard work from the coaches and the players. This was a special season, and we can only build off the success we had this year."

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