UCF Defeats Wichita State, 3-1

Box Score (PDF)

WICHITA, Kan. ( – UCF Volleyball (13-6, 6-1) looked to be in control for most of the match Friday night as they took down the Wichita State Shockers (4-15 1-6) in four sets (23-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-23) to extend their winning streak to four straight games.

After dropping the first set, the Knights bounced right back to take the next three in a row, including a 14-point second set margin of victory, to take down the Shockers in front of their home crowd.

"This was one of those gritty wins that you need to win in the middle to late part of October, when the grind is on," said UCF Volleyball Head Coach Todd Dagenais. "I said before, 'don't look at Wichita State's record and expect a certain level of play.' They are way better. And they were tonight. But, I thought our playing as a team – our togetherness – was as good as it has been all year, and that is what you need when you are playing on the road against a team that is way better than what their record is.

"In the four sets, I think we got our blocking back again. I thought it disappeared the last couple of matches, and I think that is for a couple of reasons. I think teams were trying to avoid our block. We created a lot of errors with our block just being up – making teams hit out of bounds and so on. So, we didn't get as many, but tonight I thought we did a nice job of lining up the block and making them concerned about the size of our block and how we were blocking. So, to put up those thirteen blocks in those four sets really changed the way they wanted to attack us and allowed us to keep them down to a pretty respectable attacking number at .121."

Lache Harper led the way defensively for UCF as she had double digit rejections and digs on the night for her first double-double of the season. Offensively, Alli Sabol continued her strong play as of late as she turned in yet another 10-kill performance, hitting at a .354 clip.

The Knights will continue their road trip as they travel to Oklahoma to take on Tulsa Sunday at 2:00 pm ET.

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Wichita State started the match off strong, going up 10-5 before the Knights called a timeout. After the timeout, UCF slowly worked their way back into the set, cutting the deficit to 19-18 before the Shockers called a timeout of their own. Following of the timeout, Lache Harper and Alli Sabol had a rejection at the net to tie it the set at 19 apiece. The Shockers errored on the next play to give UCF its first lead of the night, 20-19. Late in the set, Wichita State went up 24-22 and the Knights called their second timeout, but it would not change the trajectory of the set as the Shockers would go on to win the first set, 25-23.

The Knights began to settle into the match during the second set as they started it up 7-3 to give themselves a comfortable lead early on. They continued to pad onto their lead, going up 17-10 before the Shockers called a timeout. UCF would not be slowed as Anne-Marie Watson finished the set with a strong kill to give the Knights the 25-19 set victory.

UCF continued to outplay Wichita State as they began the third set up 8-4. Kristina Fisher recorded a service ace to put UCF up 13-7 and force a Wichita State timeout. The Knights continued to roll as they found themselves up 19-7 after a nine-point scoring run before the Shockers called yet another timeout. UCF maintained their dominant play in the third set as they went on to win, 25-11, to go up two sets to one in the match.

The two teams were neck-and-neck to begin the fourth set, but UCF began to pull away as the set went on, going up 12-9 before Wichita State called timeout. The Knights continued to pull away to go up 18-13, but the Shockers would not go down without a fight as they went on a four-point scoring run to come within a point and force a UCF timeout. Wichita State kept things close late into the set. With UCF narrowly out in front, 24-23, McKenna Melville got the kill to give the Knights the 25-23 set victory and win the Knights their fourth straight match.

[On the difference between the first set and the rest of the match]

"The first set, I just don't think we were comfortable in. We just didn't settle in. We had five serving errors and seven attacking errors, so we gave them twelve points right off the bat. It was basically like starting a set off 12-0 and trying to win. Losing that first set was disappointing enough to kind of shock us into being ourselves again and being comfortable. It was almost the same thing that happened when we beat USF."

[On preparing for Tulsa]
"Tulsa has postseason aspirations. They want to be a tournament team, and they have the talent to do it. They are looking for marquee wins so I am sure they are looking at us. We always say championships are won on Sunday on the road, and we have a road match where we are going to have to go in and get comfortable right away because Tulsa is a fierce team at home, and they are going to fight. We are going to have to find a way to beat them because there is no way they are going to give us a match."

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The Knights continue their road trip as they travel to Oklahoma to take on Tulsa Sunday at 2:00 pm ET.