More history was made on Thursday night as the UCF volleyball team won its first road match in league play as a member of the American Athletic Conference with a sweep of Cincinnati (25-18, 25-20, 25-16) at Fifth Third Arena.
The Knights (13-4, 4-0 The American) overwhelmed the young Bearcats (0-18, 0-5) with a strong defensive effort, holding Cincinnati to just a .086 attack percentage. It was the first time since Aug. 31 that UCF held an opponent under a .100 hit percentage over a full match.
“Tonight was as complete of a road match as we’ve played all year,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “We played really well and controlled the match from beginning to end. We got everybody involved at a high level. For us to be able to hang with the likes of Louisville and the other top teams in this league, we have to be balanced and keep teams guessing. We can’t just depend on one or two hitters. Tonight we made a concerted effort to be as balanced as we can be. I thought Dana (Faught) executed our game plan perfectly.”
It was a all-around effort offensively for the Black and Gold as no player recorded double-digit kills, but five players registered at least six. Senior Angelica Crump led the way with nine kills, increasing her team lead to 232 on the season. The Atlanta native now has 1340 career kills, fifth-most in school history and the second highest total in the rally scoring era.
Thursday night was also an opportunity for freshman middle blocker Taylor Wickey to gain valuable experience after working hard all season in practice. Wickey got her number called for the first time this season in the third set and responded by clinching the sweep for the Knights with the match-ending block.
“Putting Taylor in a match has been something that’s been on our mind for two or three weeks,” Dagenais said. “We’ve been waiting for her to get enough experience and enough confidence in practice to be able to insert her in a key spot. In some rotations we really think we can gain an advantage with Wickey as a blocking specialist. You can’t teach 6’4” with good feet, good heart and good drive and she has all of those qualities.”
Junior libero Jade Hayes picked up 12 digs, extended her double-digit streak to 12-consecutive matches. Freshman Taylor Gallart showed off her two-way ability with six kills and eight digs while junior Loren Cory provided punch at the net with seven kills and four block assists. Junior Kaye-Alese Green shined in the middle with six kills and five block assists. In her first season as a full-time starter, Green leads the team with 70 combined blocks.
UCF gets the next two days off before returning to action on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. against conference-leading Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center. Sunday’s match will be televised live on ESPNU with Melissa Lee and Nell Fortner on the call.