Missing junior Kia Bright, who leads the Knights in kills, UCF searched for back-to-back wins to begin conference play.
But the Knights (7-7, 1-1 in AAC) were handed their first conference loss of the season, 3-0, to Temple (11-3, 2-0 in AAC) on Sunday. The All-American Bright was missed as the Knights were swept for the second time this season.
Despite big performances from junior Taylor Gallart, junior Jale Hervey and freshman Maddie Haggerty, UCF couldn’t handle Temple’s firepower.
“I think they are the team to beat in this conference right now,” head coach Todd Dagenais said. “Offensively, to stick with them for the first two sets, I don’t think we are that far behind.
“We did half of our game plan, offensively. But on the defensive side of it, we didn’t have an answer for them.”
The first set came down to the wire but was won by Temple, 25-22. Despite Gallart and Hervey combining for six kills and two digs, it wasn’t enough to match Temple’s Irem Asci and Kirsten Overton, who combined for 11 kills and one dig.
Asci and Izzy Rapacz ended up being the difference makers for Temple with a combined 23 kills and seven digs. Sydlik also completed the first set with 17 assists.
Hervey led the Knights with 12 kills and Haggerty posted seven.
The Owls took the second set, 25-16, and the third set, 25-12.
“Temple wanted it more than we did,” junior Shelby Foyer said. “We have to realize we are a young team and I think we have to realize that we have to play hard no matter what and we are going to get the other team’s best game.”
Bright’s status for next weekend is uncertain, but UCF hopes to get its star player back as soon as possible.
UCF’s next contest is Friday, October 2nd against conference opponent Tulane (6-6).
Jimmy Calhoun is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.