ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The saying "home sweet home" rang ever true for the UCF volleyball team Friday as it swept both Columbia and Jacksonville on the first day of the Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic from The Venue. The Knights (2-3) will go for the tournament title tomorrow night against Liberty at 7 p.m.
After coming up empty at the USF Invitational last week, the Knights made short work of both the Lions (0-2) and Dolphins (0-5), and UCF head coach Todd Dagenais is pleased with his squad's bounce-back mentality.
"It's always great to be home, especially when you go out and play the way we did," Dagenais said. "We are still trying to find ourselves. Steps like we took today are helping us go in the direction that we need to and grow as a team.
"For us right now it's about building confidence," Dagenais added. "We took a big shot to it last week, but today we came out and played the way we need to so we could start building some confidence in ourselves."
In a 1:30 p.m. start against Columbia, the Knights swept the Lions and have now won four-straight home openers dating back to 2004.
On the afternoon, UCF hit .293, including .324 in the opening set and .333 in the second. Redshirt junior Angelica Crump, fresh off her 35 kills at the USF Invitational, blasted a season-high 18 with an impressive .441 hitting percentage.
Seven Knights in all registered a kill in the match while redshirt sophomore Marie Reiterova and freshman Dana Faught dished out 33 and 11 assists, respectively. Senior Meredith Murphy added to her all-time dig total with a team-best 12, and now owns 57 to pace the squad in 2012.
A strong showing by the UCF defense limited Columbia to just a .115 attack percentage overall while six members of the Black and Gold recorded at least one block assist.
The first set saw the Knights and Lions (0-1) battle back and forth until Crump took over with three-straight kills halfway through to put UCF ahead for good and take the frame, 25-16. Reiterova had a monster stanza with 16 assists, while Ashley Gialenios smacked four of her nine kills in the set.
UCF jumped out to leads of 5-0 and 13-2 in the second frame behind a balanced attack that saw Crump blast five more kills and Gialenios another three. Seven Knights notched a dagger in the set, including Loren Cory who claimed the first three kills of her UCF career after redshirting the 2011 season. The Queensland, Australia, native finished the match with five.
The Lions put up a strong fight in the third set, battling the Knights all the way to 25-all. After a Columbia service error into the net, Crump put the match away for good with a monstrous smash.
It was a total team effort in the thumping of JU in the nighcap as UCF had seven Knights with a kill and Crump leading with nine (27 on the day). Senior middle blocker Tory McCutcheon went 8-for-9 (.889) on the attack and registered six total blocks, including five block assists. Nine members of the squad nabbed a dig while Murphy totaled a team-high eight.
UCF pushed its all-time lead in the series against JU to 41-15 with the victory.
In the first set, the Knights hit a robust .458 and had five players with at least two kills apiece to claim the stanza, 25-14. Reiterova assisted on eight kills, and the Knights held JU to just .143 in the frame.
The second frame featured more high-powered offense from the Knights and thrilling rallies that went in UCF's favor. Crump blasted four more kills in the frame and Reiterova and Faught notched five sets apiece while the Knights ran a 6-2 offense. UCF stifled the Dolphins to the tune of a -.094 attack percentage, and .010 on the night.
After allowing Columbia to creep into the third set earlier in the day, UCF did not such thing with JU, closing out the match with a 25-15 third stanza. The Knights totaled four blocks in the frame and limited the Dolphins to a .000 attack percentage.
Friday night also saw Cory and Faught get their first-career starts in a UCF uniform.
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