ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) – Behind a career-effort from sophomore middle blocker DeLaina Sarden, the UCF volleyball team topped Southern Miss, 3-1 (25-18, 23-25, 27-25, 25-15) in the Venue Friday evening. The Knights (8-13, 5-4) notched their second-straight win on their home court.
Redshirt junior Angelica Crump blasted 17 kills and backed Sarden, who set a new career-high with 18 kills while also chipping in with five blocks. Coming off her first Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week award, senior Meredith Murphy continued her stellar play in the back row with 25 digs (6.25 per set). Redshirt sophomore Marie Reiterova paced the team’s attack with her second 60-assist effort of the season and in the process shattered her previous high of 37 assists in a four-set match.
It was a complete effort by the whole squad as it hit .305 for the match while holding the Eagles to just a .171 mark. The Knights picked up 65 kills in just four sets which was a season-best. UCF’s 13 blocks were its second-highest total in 2012.
“I can’t say enough about the job that Nicki Holmes and Michelle Chatman have done with this team in my absence,” Head coach Todd Dagenais said as he returned to the bench for the first time since September 21. “I’ve been gone and have had absolutely no impact on this program for the last four weeks and I think it’s a great sign for our program that we have that kind of continuity to be able to switch various pieces around. We do that with injuries and we do that with coaches.”
The two teams will meet in Hattiesburg, Miss., Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT for the second match of the home-and-home weekend.
UCF jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind a strong offensive attack that cumulated a .424 attack percentage. Leading 19-18, the Knights closed out the stanza in style with a 6-0 run. Sarden connected on six-of-seven swings while Crump smashed five kills in the frame. Eight Knights notched a dig in the frame while holding the Golden Eagles to just .194 on offense.
After dropping the second set, 25-23, UCF trailed 17-12 in the third and before eventually tying it at 19-all. The Knights took their first lead of the frame at 23-22 and fought to a pair of set points before eventually claiming the frame, 27-25, thanks to a huge block assist by Sarden and Reiterova. The redshirt sophomore setter concluded the frame with 19 assists while Crump and Sarden blasted seven and six kills, respectively.
Riding the momentum from the third set, UCF wasted no time in dispatching of the Golden Eagles, 25-15, in the fourth. Behind a raucous crowd, the Knights rattled off seven-straight points after the stanza was tied at 9-all. Aiding UCF in the clinching set was sophomore Ashley Gialenios. The sophomore smashed seven of her 13 kills in the match-deciding frame and helped seal the victory in style by combining on a thrilling block assist with Sarden.