UCF was without its head coach as well as All-American team leader, but managed to pull off a victory in its second conference matchup of the season.
The Knights (8-7, 2-1 in AAC) beat Tulane (7-8, 1-2 in AAC) Friday night in a 3-2 outing.
Head coach Todd Dagenais and junior All-American Kia Bright, who is out for the season due to a knee injury, were absent as the Knights won their second conference matchup. A huge performance by freshman Maddie Haggerty, who tallied 11 kills and eight digs, helped lead UCF to victory.
Assistant coach Michelle Chatman filled in for Dagenais, who is away due to a personal family matter.
"I thought that our players played with amazing heart. The defensive intensity was amazing,” Chatman said. “We are going to continue to do our job. [Todd] set a great culture for this group, and so it was easy for us to just continue to move forward."
The first set was won by Tulane, 25-20. Junior's Jale Hervey and Taylor Gallart combined for six kills and one dig, but it wasn't enough to offset the firepower of Tulane’s Sarah Strasner, who had five kills.
The Knights bounced back in the second set, winning handily, 25-15. Hervey led the way with five kills while senior Dana Faught added four assists and one dig.
A down-to-the-wire, back-and-forth duel of the third set went to the Green Wave, 30-28. Haggerty led the Knights with five kills and added four digs in the set.
UCF came back with a vengeance in the fourth set, winning in a dominant fashion, 25-11. The Knights were led by redshirt sophomore Taylor Wickey, who posted four kills, and freshman Miranda Watkins, who had 11 assists and one dig.
The final set was taken by UCF, 15-11. Hervey came up big with four kills and one assist in the set.
Hervey finished with 18 kills, Watkins finished with 39 assists and freshman Jordan Pingel finished with 20 digs.
"We trust each other. It’s really exciting to be a part of team that anyone at any point can make the game winning play or the game winning save," senior Abbie Fleener.
Dagenais will miss Sunday's home match against Houston (11-3, 2-1 in AAC) at 2 p.m. and Chatman will fill the role again.
Jimmy Calhoun is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.