UCF and Georgia Advance in NIVC

  0 Julie Haake | November 29th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News, SEC


  • UCF def. UNCG 3-0, (25-19, 25-18, 25-22)
  • UCF moves to 20-13; UNGC ends season at 19-12
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Attendance: N/A
  • Box Score


  • Georgia def. Alabama A&M 3-0, (25-17, 25-9, 25-18)
  • Georgia moves to 21-11; Alabama A&M ends season at 14-20
  • Athens, Georgia
  • Attendance: 417
  • Box Score

ATHENS, Ga.– UCF defeated UNC Greensboro and Georgia took down Alabama A&M on Tuesday night in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Tuesday night in the Ramsey Center at Georgia. The UCF Knights have swept six of their last seven matches and this is the first post-season victory for Georgia since 1995. The two teams will face each other Wednesday night at 7 p.m. as the Bulldogs host UCF.

UCF Setters, Erin Olson and Miranda Watkins, ran the offense for the knights with 19 and 10 assists, respectively. Kia Bright led the team in kills and digs, putting away 12 balls on a .290 clip and scooping up 10 digs for a double-double on the match. Kristina Fisher also had an impressive offensive performance with 11 kills and two errors on 30 attempts for a .300 hitting percentage. Jeanne Westney led the team in block assists with eight.

Maria Esch fueled the UNC Greensboro offense with seven kills. She was fed by setter, Allison Penner, who recorded 27 assists. The back row was controlled by libero, Christina Gregory, as she dug up 12.

In the Georgia match, Meghan Donovan delivered 31 assists and Rachel Ritchie put away 11 kills hitting .381. Kendall Glover led the defense with 10 digs. The Bulldogs came away from the match with 12 service aces.

Syretha Pride led the offense for Alabama A&M with seven kills, hitting .333. Defensively, Rebecca Pierce led the way with eight digs. Meredith Sieck accounted for 14 of 15 assists for the Lady Bulldogs.


Courtesy of UCF Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF volleyball team extended its winning streak into the postseason on Tuesday afternoon with a sweep of UNC Greensboro (25-19, 25-18, 25-22) in the First Round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. The Knights (20-13) have now swept six of their last seven matches.

UCF held the Spartans (19-12) to a mere .059 hitting percentage, including a pair of sets under .060, behind some relentless defense. The Knights finished with eight rejections. Jeanne Westney was a brick wall at the net, leading the team with eight block assists. Anne-Marie Watson and Alli Saboleach sent three UNCG attacks back over the net, and Kia Bright blocked a pair of balls. When the Spartans managed to get an attack through the block, it was met by solid back row play. Topped by Bright’s 10 digs, UCF had five players post five or more digs.

On the offensive side, Bright and Kristina Fisherpowered the attack with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Alli Sabol chipped in with five scoring swings. The Black and Gold hit .225 for the match and committed just 14 errors. Erin Olson and Miranda Watkins combined for 29 of the Knights’ 36 assists. Jordan Pingel added five dimes, along with a pair of Taylor Wickey.

• The Knights jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set, never allowing the Spartans within two.
• The quick beginning cooled off as the Black and Gold tallied just six kills in the set.
• UCF’s defense forced 11 UNCG errors and the Knights scored four service aces.
• Leading 17-15, the Knights closed the set on an 8-3 run with kills from Bright, Sabol and Fisher, along with a service ace from Mary Kate Painter.

• After a slow start offensively in the first, the Knights hit .309 over the final two sets, including a .345 clip in the second.
• Bright struck for 11 kills in the second and third, while Fisher hammered nine.
• Four Knights notched hitting percentages over .300 in the last two games.
• Wickey and Westney were flawless during the stretch, combining for five kills.

Head coach Todd Dagenais after the match.
On the match…
“This UNC Greensboro team was one of the best defensive teams that we’ve faced this year. They were scrappy like Tulsa and ECU. Those were two teams that we struggled with this year. I thought both teams were nervous in the first set, playing in the postseason for the first time. We were lucky enough to make fewer errors than them in the first set. I thought we did a great job of stabilizing in games two and three. We played our brand of volleyball – be offensive, smart defensively and be low error. I thought that’s what we did. When it got close, I thought we did a good job of pulling away, and it was all from making plays. It just seemed that we came up with a timely transition kill or block that we needed to finish out the second and third.”

On the play of Jeanne Westney
“She did a nice job of reading the attack. Our serving game did a nice job of putting Jeanne in a position to get set up for some blocks. That serving game took away options, and she read a lot of those perfectly. I give her a lot of credit. She’s grown up a lot this year, especially in the last eight weeks. To see her be a part of all eight blocks is something that we really want her to do for us.”

On facing the Georgia…
“We’re looking at a big, physical SEC team. They play the best in the nation. They’ve seen players a lot like ours before. They’re certainly not going to be afraid of us. We’re just going to have to go out and play with them and score. They are a very physical, jump, hit, block and serve team. It’s going to come down to ball control for both teams. For us, running our offense the way we want to will be crucial.

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Courtesy of Georgia Athletics

A season that began with a new coaching staff and a lot of new players in key positions continues Tuesday night at the Ramsey Center, where the Georgia volleyball team will host Alabama A&M in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

After going through a few tough years, the Bulldogs went 20-11 overall and placed fifth in the SEC standings with a 10-8 record (Georgia won a combined one SEC match in the previous two seasons). They were likely in the conversation for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, but are playing in the NIVC instead.

Georgia last made the postseason in 2013, when it qualified for the NCAAs.

“It’s definitely exciting and something new for a lot of us,” junior Majesti Bass said of reaching the postseason. “Coming here, I thought about it but after how the first season went I didn’t think it would ever happen. It’s really awesome that we have this opportunity.”

It’s an opportunity for a team that likes playing together and being around each other to keep at it. It’s also, freshman Rachel Ritchie said, an opportunity to continue the growth and development that has led the Bulldogs to this position.

“I think it’s more opportunities to get better and get ready for next year,” said Ritchie, who is second on the team with 393 kills, behind fellow freshman T’ara Ceasar‘s 433. “We’re still figuring things out and building on what we’ve learned this season.”

With the new staff, led by head coach Tom Black, and very talented freshmen in Ritchie, the All-SEC Ceasar and Kendall Glover, it was hard to know what to expect from this season. Ritchie said she knew early on that the team had the potential to “do something great” if it put in the work.

“I met the girls and I just knew that they have the same mentality that I do, that we all just want to play and do whatever it takes to get better,” she said. “I didn’t really come in thinking about how many games we would win, but just, how good can we get, every day and every practice?”

Said Bass: “I knew that there would be a definite improvement, but I didn’t think it would be this great and I didn’t think it would happen this fast. We’re definitely on the right path.”

Black tries not to think too much about results. Instead, he and his staff try to “stay focused on just day by day,” he said. And day by day this team gotten better.

Georgia won its first five matches and seven of its first eight. After beating Georgia Tech in front of a packed Ramsey Center crowd on Sept. 15, the Bulldogs were 10-3 heading into SEC play.

After beating Alabama in the conference opener, Georgia dropped three in a row, and after seven SEC matches its conference record was 2-5. Since then, the Bulldogs have won eight of their past 11 matches, with two of those losses coming to third-ranked Kentucky.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in results, but you’ve got to know that it’s a by-product [of hard work],” Black said. “To see them get better and to see them get the results based off that, that’s the best.”

And with the hard work has come good results, which has brought a lot of energy and excitement to the program.

“It’s seems like it’s building a little bit, but we can go so much further,” Black said. “It’s going in the right direction, for sure.”

Now, with the opportunity to play in the 32-team NIVC and keep their season going a while longer, the Bulldogs have to chance to add to a special final season for the seniors and build for the future.

“I think for the seniors, [playing in the postseason] means they were able to accomplish something and help lift the program from where it was to where it can be,” Black said. “And I think for the freshmen, it’s a great experience, learning how to play in the postseason and how do we get more, how do we get better from here?”

Courtesy of UNC Greensboro Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. – UNCG volleyball’s season came to a close as it fell to UCF 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-22) in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Tuesday evening at the Ramsey Center. The Spartans conclude the year at 19-12 while the Knights improve to 20-13 and advance to the second round of the NIVC.

“I think UCF did a really good job capitalizing on a few plays,” said UNCG head coach Corey Carlin. “They played a little cleaner in the second and third sets. We had opportunities. I think it took us a little bit to get into the flow of the match, but when we did it was very competitive. I’m just really thankful for this opportunity with the administration of UNCG supporting us going to this new NIVC Tournament. Any time you get to play past Thanksgiving it’s a special thing, and this team definitely earned it. We thank the NIVC staff for inviting us to participate. Overall it was a good experience, especially for the returners for next season.”

Senior middle hitter Annchara Montgomery (Indianapolis, Ind./Illinois State) registered a team-high eight kills at a .200 average. Freshman outside hitter Maria Esch (Williamsburg, Va./Jamestown) had seven kills, and redshirt-sophomore Rebecca Rice (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville) had the highest team average in the match of .250 on six kills.

Senior outside hitter Ashley Muench (Hurdle Mills, N.C./Oragne) had five kills, eight digs and two assists. Muench finished her decorated career with 1,540 kills and 1,008 digs and ranks second in program history in career kills.

“I’m just really proud of our seniors,” said Carlin. “This class has a special place in my heart because they came into the program with me. To see this program continue to grow and raise the bar every year they’ve been here is awesome. I’m very appreciative of these ladies.”

Junior setter Allison Penner (Aurora, Neb./Aurora) had a match-high 27 assists, six digs and three kills. She ended the 2017 campaign with 1,246 assists, moving her to sixth in most season assists by a Spartan ahead of Tanya Edmunds’ 1,240 in 1989.

Junior defensive specialist Christina Gregory (Louisville, Ky./Sacred Heart Academy) finished with a match-high 12 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Grace Howell(Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall-Health) had 7 digs, and senior defensive specialist Anna Romaniszyn (Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek) contributed six digs.

The Knights recorded just one more kill (37-36) in the match but had 15 less attacking errors (14-29) on only three more team blocks (8-5).

UCF jumped out to a 7-1 lead to begin the first set and then had a 4-0 run for a 12-4 advantage. UNCG managed to cut its deficit down to three points by claiming seven of the next nine points. The Knights closed the set by winning five of the last seven points.

The Spartans had 11 attacking errors in the set, and all four reception errors of the match and two of the three service errors also occurred in the set.

UNCG claimed an early lead in the second set by winning seven of the first 10 points. Esch, Muench and sophomore middle hitter Lauren Robeck (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) all contributed kills while Howell also had a service ace. UCF gained the lead for good on a 6-0 run that made it 13-10. The Knights’ lead wavered between one and two points before they ended the set on a 6-0 run.

The Knights got the first lead of the third set on a 4-1 run to make it 7-4. The Spartans acquired their first lead of the set on a 3-1 run with kills by Rice and Muench and a service ace by Muench as well. UCF used a 4-0 run to go ahead 22-19, but UNCG tied it up by winning the next three points on three kills by Rice. The Knights won the following three points on a kill and two attacking errors from the Spartans to win the match.

Courtesy of Alabama A&M Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. – Alabama A&M University volleyball season came to a close as it fell to Georgia 3-0 (25-17, 25-9, 25-18) in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Tuesday evening at the Ramsey Center. The Lady Bulldogs conclude the year at 14-20 while Georgia improves to 21-11 and advance to the second round of the NIVC.

Syretha Pride led Alabama A&M with seven kills and three blocks. Meredith Sieckregistered 14 assists and Rebecca Pierce contributed eight digs.

The Lady Bulldogs was outhit .322 – .045 over the course of the match, including a .545 – .000 advantage in favor of Georgia during a one-sided second set win for the home-standing Lady Bulldogs.

In set one, Georgia built an early 23-11 lead, but Lady Bulldogs were able to respond back offensively with an 6-1 run to get within single digits, 24-17.  However, the hosting Bulldogs were able to secure a kill to win set one, 25-17. The Lady Bulldogs struggled offensively in set two, dropping the second set, 25-9.

In set three, The Lady Bulldogs were able to keep up with Georgia early one, but a bad set from Alabama A&M allowed Georgia to go on a 7-0 run. Down 19-10, the Lady Bulldogs went on an 8-4 run to cut Georgia’s deficit to five, 23-17, but back-to-back errors from Alabama A&M allowed Georgia to pull away with the match victory.

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