UCF Volleyball Concludes Road Trip with Texas Two Step

Oct. 17, 2013

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By Andrew Jennette

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF volleyball team caps a four-match road trip with a pair of conference contests as it travels to Houston and SMU this week. Both opponents are familiar for the Black and Gold as each joined the American Athletic Conference this season after successful runs in Conference USA.

The Knights (13-5, 4-1 The American) will take on the Cougars (12-9, 4-2) on Friday night at 7 p.m., and then head up I-45 to battle the Mustangs (12-7, 4-2) on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Black and Gold sits just a game ahead of both squads in The American standings and will look to seize control of second place in the league standings with a pair of wins.

“Both of these teams are upper-tier teams in this league,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “I really feel like Louisville controls their destiny, but there is a group of schools right after that and that group includes us, Houston and SMU so this is a very pivotal weekend for the standings.”

The first opponent of the weekend for the Knights will be Houston. The Cougars have a scrappy defense that can force teams to play out of system as evidenced by their No. 1 ranking in the league in both opponents’ kills and assists. UCF won at Houston, 3-1, for the first time in program history last season and then eliminated the Cougars from the C-USA Tournament semifinals with a sweep.

“Houston continues to be a program that’s improving,” Dagenais said. “I think their head coach (Kaddie Platt) is finally getting the kind of players that fit her style, very similar track to what we’re doing. You can see their steady progress. They’ve been in some tight, tough matches this year and they are always especially dangerous at home. For us against them, our defense has to continue to be what we saw in the Cincinnati and Louisville matches last weekend. It’s one of those places we hadn’t had a lot of success at until recently and obviously we’re looking to continue that success.”

After the tilt with the Bearcats, the Knights will travel approximately 239 miles north to battle the Mustangs in front of a nationally-televised audience. SMU and UCF have the potential for fireworks as the two teams rank first and second in the conference in attack percentage. Two-time American Player of the Week Caroline Young leads the Mustangs, who are 4-1 at home this season, and is fifth in the American with 3.49 kills per set.

“SMU can put up some scary numbers offensively when they are in rhythm,” Dagenais said. “Caroline Young could very well be the top player in this league individually. She can score, she can block, she can really do a lot of things and she’s somebody we have to keep an eye on. It would be a mistake to just focus on her though because they have a lot of ways they can attack you. They have good weapons and we have to find a way to go on the road and put our best match together against them.”

UCF dropped their first conference match of the season last Sunday, but they are still well represented in the conference statistics. As a team they lead The American in hitting percentage and assists. Individual, they have the category leaders in hitting percentage (DeLaina Sarden, .418), kills (Angelica Crump, 3.74 kills per set) and assists (Marie Reiterova, 11.67 assists per set).



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