The UCF volleyball team made history in more ways than one as it earned its first league victory in the American Athletic Conference with a sweep of in-state rival USF (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) Friday night in front of a school-record 1,669 fans at The Venue for VolleyBowl VI.
The crowd of 1,669 broke the all-time attendance record of 1,603 that the Knights (10-4, 1-0 The American) set in the 2009 season, also against the Bulls (6-9, 0-1) in VolleyBowl II.
“First and foremost, we have to give a big thank you to the marketing and event promotions group that put this event together and allowed it to have such a great atmosphere,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “I think that absolutely carried us to victory. A great atmosphere can be worth three to four points every set and you look and we won by three points all three sets.”
Three Knights recorded double-digit kills, led by senior Angelica Crump who smacked 15. Backing up Crump were juniors Loren Cory and DeLaina Sarden who registered 13 and 10 respectively. Junior setter Marie Reiterova had a huge three-set double-double, dishing out 42 assists (14.00 per set) and digging out 16 shots (5.33 per set). Junior libero Jade Hayes continued her excellent play on the back row, extending her streak of double-digit digs to nine matches.
“Tonight was pretty cool,” Hayes said. “I wasn’t expecting there to be that much intensity in the UCF-USF rivalry, but it was really great. I’m glad we got our first conference win in our first try to get off to a great start.”
VolleyBowl VI provided an interesting challenge for UCF as a team. The Knights formula for success in non-conference play was to attack at a high percentage and generally outscore opponents in run and gun, offense dominated contests. With both teams hitting under .200 for the match, the Black and Gold had to really give a grinding defensive effort to win which it did as the Knights topped USF in digs, 60-43.
“This was the kind of match that I want,” Dagenais said. “I’m a blocking and defense, grind it out, score when you can kind of coach. That’s how you win in conference play.”
UCF gets a full week off before returning to action next Friday at 7 p.m. against UConn at The Venue.