Clobbering Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, Ohio (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF volleyball team got its road weekend off to a strong start on Friday night with a 3-0 sweep of Cincinnati (25-17, 25-20, 25-14). The Knights (13-12, 6-7) outhit the Bearcats by nearly 200 percentage points to cap their second straight sweep.

Avenging a 3-0 loss to Cincinnati earlier this season, the Black and Gold were relentless on defense. The Knights tallied a season high for a three-set match with 12 blocks. Taylor Wickey continued her impressive string of rejections with six against the Bearcats. She was joined for the team high by Anne-Marie Watson. Kia Bright and Jeanne Westney chipped in with three swats. Erin Olson finished with a team-high 13 digs, as a trio of Knights finished in double figures, including a career-high 11 for Mary Kate Painter.

While the defense was smothering the UC attack, the Knights' offense found its rhythm early. UCF never hit below .200 in a set and finished the match with a .237 clip at the net. Even more impressive, the Knights shaved down their errors as the match progressed, ending with just two in the final game. Per usual, Bright led the offense with 14 kills on 33 swings for a .333 attack percentage. In her homecoming match, Alli Sabol followed closely with a match-high .370 hitting clip to go with 10 kills without committing an error. Kristina Fisher found the floor eight times, and Watson finished with six kills.

Friday's victory will give the Knights a huge boost to their National Invitational Volleyball Championship resume as they head into another key American Athletic Conference clash on Sunday at ECU.

* The Knight took control with a 10-2 run to start the match.
* Sabol and Fisher both notched five kills, as the Black and Gold created 16 points through the attack in the first set.
* The offensive outburst resulted in a .233 clip at the net.
* On the defensive end, UCF recorded 24 digs and a pair of blocks to hold the Bearcats to an .023 hitting percentage.

* UCF had to play from behind for the majority of the second set.
* Despite evening the scores at 13-13, the Bearcats kept their distance.
* Down 19-17, the Knights mounted an 8-1 rally to overtake the hosts and claim the second.
* Wickey and Watson tallied UCF's fifth rejection of the set to send the visitors to the break with a 2-0 lead.

* The Knights held Cincinnati below .025 hitting for two of the three sets. The Bearcats registers an .057 clip for the match.
* After sending two UC attacks back over the net in the opener, UCF tallied 10 blocks over the final two frames.
* Carly Nolan, who came in leading the American Athletic Conference with 4.10 kills per set, was limited to just seven scores for 2.33 kills per set.

Head Coach Todd Dagenais after the match.
Opening statement...
"We're getting down to the late stages of the season where these matches really count for something. To go on the road and beat a quality like Cincinnati was really big for us. I thought we came in extremely prepared. We were really on point defensively. Offensively, we had the kind of match you would expect on the road in a different gym with a different ball. Our energy and hustle carried us through and helped us manufacture so many points. I don't think we ever really gave them a chance to get anything going.

"By far, this was our best serving game of the year in terms of targets and taking away the other team's weapons. I think that really hindered Cincinnati from running the offense they wanted to run. I think that might have been our best match defensively."

On the block's performance...
"We decided that we wanted to make a blocking adjustment. That change yielded seven blocks in the first two sets right away. I think that put Cincinnati on their heels right off the bat. They went to off-speed shots. We had a plan to take those off-speed attacks and turn them into points. They blocks were the result of being in the right spot and reading the right queues."

On the play of the back row...
"We had to make a defensive change because of our blocking adjustment. I think that put our back row in a position to get some digs. Our back row got all of the easier digs, plus some tremendous defensive plays, great reads and some circus digs.

"I thought we were very balanced defensively. Mary Kate played as disciplined that you could want a freshman to play in that role. They didn't hit the ball at Jordan very much. The fact that Erin had 13 digs showed that Cincinnati wanted to keep the ball away from her."

On the rally in the second set...
"We were making too many offensive errors in the second set, plus a couple of serving errors. We took a timeout down three to regroup a little bit. We reassured that our plan was working. Slowly, we caught them at 19-19. We were patient and able to finish out that second set."

On Kia Bright and Kristina Fisher...
"Kia didn't have a Kia match in the first two sets. She really let go in the final game to get seven kills and bring her hitting percentage up. Kristina was a really solid force attacking and blocking. I think this may have been one of her best games blocking. Even though she only got one block, she did a great job of funneling the ball where we wanted it to go.

On what this match does going forward...
"We're a team that is poised to have a better second half to the conference season. All three matches we've played in the second half have been major improvements. I think it's a team that continues to grow and get better. I think the younger players are improving every time they step on the floor. The older reliable players are keeping it steady and putting the team in a position to win."

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