ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF volleyball team enters one of its toughest weekends of the year at the Bubly Invitational in Gainesville. The Knights will take on a pair of top-10 teams in No. 4 Florida and No. 7 Southern California, as well as Louisville, a program receiving votes in this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll.
ESPN3 will stream UCF’s matches against Louisville and USC. The Knights will face the Gators on Sunday afternoon on SEC Network +.
Here are five things to know heading into Week 2:
1. A LOOK BACK
The Knights opened the season down at the Sunshine State Classic in Miami. UCF started strong with a 3-1 victory over FGCU and a sweep of FAU, but Miami defeated the Black & Gold in the weekend finale. McKenna Melville and Jordan Pingel were named to the All-Tournament team after finishing with 5.5 kills and 3.6 digs per set, respectively.
2. MAC ATTACK
Melville needed just three games as a collegiate player to be tabbed as The American Offensive Player of the Week. The Eagan, Minn., native struck double-figure kills in every match last weekend, including 20 against Miami, becoming the first UCF player since 2016 to hit that number in a three-set match. Melville also showed flashes on defense with a pair of double-doubles. The rookie finished the weekend with the aforementioned 5.5 kills per set, along with 3.5 digs per set, a .358 clip at the net and one solo block.
3. WELCOME TO THE COLLEGE GAME
Last weekend also provided the collegiate debuts of the other five members of the 2018 recruiting class. Setter Amber Olson ran the offense with her sister Erin Olson to notch 58 assists on the weekend. Defensive specialist Bailey Wilson found the floor with a pair of aces, as well as 12 digs. Bri Garcia hit double-digits in the match against FAU to finish two kills per set. Kathryn Wesolich racked up 10 blocks on the weekend.
4. REPEATING HISTORY?
The Knights will attempt to take down a ranked opponent for the first time since 2011, when coincidentally, the Black & Gold swept No. 3 USC in Fort Myers. The Women of Troy were coming off an NCAA Final Four appearance in 2010 and would eventually reach the 2011 Final Four in San Antonio later that season. The Knights hit .351 with a trio of players in double figures, led by Evija Vilde and Angelica Crump with 15 scores apiece, while the Black and Gold held the USC offense to .135 hitting. The sweep was one of only five losses the Women of Troy suffered in 2011.
5. SIZING UP THE COMPETITION
>> Louisville needed a perfect nine sets to open the year with three wins at the Cardinal Classic. Amanda Green has powered the offense with 3.11 kills per set. UCF is looking for its first win against the Cardinals after four previous meetings.
>> USC moved up three spots in last week’s AVCA Coaches Poll, after going 3-0 with wins against then-No. 5 Kentucky and No. 13 Creighton. The Knights’ 3-0 victory in 2011 was the lone meeting matchup. That matchup is not the only thing that ties UCF and USC together. Head coach Todd Dagenais was the assistant head coach for the Women of Troy for three seasons from 2005 to 2008.
>> Florida split a pair of matches at the Vert Challenge last weekend. The Gators edged defending national champion Nebraska 3-1, before falling to then-No. 3 Texas 3-2. Sunday will be the first meeting between UCF and Florida since 2014. The Gators own a 18-10 series lead.
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