ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF volleyball team will take its seven-match winning streak into the second week of American Athletic Conference play this weekend, as the Knights head to Tulane and Memphis.
The Knights (10-3) have won back-to-back matches in five sets for the first time since 2012 with a pair of gritty performances against Yale to win the VolleyKnights Invitational and against South Florida to open conference action.
Here are five things to know heading into matches against Tulane and Memphis:
1. LAST TIME OUT
Last Friday, the Knights faced one of the hottest teams in The American in South Florida in the first match of the War On I-4. The Bulls jumped out to a 2-1 lead, but the Knights rallied to take the final two sets. McKenna Melville racked up her eighth double-double of the year with 21 kills and 16 digs. Libero Jordan Pingel notched 21 digs to lead the way on the back row. Despite being outhit for the second time din a win this season, the Knights totaled nine blocks, led by Nerissa Moravec’s five assists.
2. CLOSING IN ON 200
Head coach Todd Dagenais enters the weekend just five wins shy of 200 for his career. In his 11th season, Dagenais passed Laura Smith for second in program history for wins earlier this season. During his tenure, he has lifted the Knights from obscurity to a nationally-recognized program with five 20-win seasons, including a pair of postseason appearances. Dagenais guided the Black and Gold to the 2014 American Athletic Conference title. His tenue has also been marked by one of the greatest upsets in collegiate volleyball history with a sweep of then-No. 3 Southern California in 2011.
3. REACHING THE RECORD
Libero Jordan Pingel is well on her way to breaking the all-time digs record at UCF. The lone senior on the 2018 squad enters this weekend 131 away from becoming the first player in program history with 2,000 in a career. In her previous three campaigns, Pingel notched three of the top four single-season marks, all of which were above 500.
4. THE ROOKIES’ ROLE
It has been no secret that the freshmen class has had a significant impact for the Black and Gold. McKenna Melville has been one of the top attackers in the nation with 4.52 kills per set to rank 14th. Kathryn Wesolich ranks ninth in The American with 1.02 blocks per set. Briana Garcia is fourth on the team with 1.78 kills per set at a .256 clip. Amber Olson has created a nice setting tandem with her sister Erin Olson to have the Knights ranked 8th nationally in assists per set. Bailey Wilson has taken advantage of her opportunities in the back row with 1.16 digs per set to go along with a pair of service aces.
5. THE OPPOSITION
>> Despite dropping its opening two matches in league play, Tulane is 12-5 on the season with a pair of victories against Power 6 opposition. The Green Wave has the top defense in the conference with a .148 opponent hitting percentage. Markenzie Benoit leads the league with 1.31 blocks per set. Kaylie McHugh is 11th in the nation with 28 service aces.
>> Under first-year head coach Sean Burdette, Memphis enters the second week of conference action at 7-7. The Tigers are led by Hannah Flowers’ 3.54 kills per set, while Kaitlyn Gehler is averaging 3.52 digs per set.
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