NEW ORLEANS, La. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF volleyball team extended its winning streak to eight matches on Friday afternoon against Tulane at the Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse. After a dropping the first set, the Knights (11-3, 2-0) rallied for a 3-1 (15-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20) victory over the Green Wave (12-6, 0-3).
The Black and Gold found balance in the attack with four players reaching double figures in kills. Anne-Marie Watson led the way with a match-high 14 kills. Freshmen McKenna Melville and Brianna Garcia turned in performances of 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Kristina Fisher also chipped in with 10 kills. It marked the first time
Setters Erin Olson and Amber Olson worked the ball pin to pin to set up a versatile UCF attack. The duo combined for 42 assists, split 23 and 19, respectively. The setting sisters also came up big in the back row. Erin posted 14 digs for her fifth double-double of the year, while Amber went for 11 digs in the second double-double of her career. Jordan Pingel anchored the back row with 18 impressive digs.
The Knights found it tough hitting their stride in the opening set. The hosts clamored out to a six-point lead at 9-3. The Green Wave held the UCF attack at bay with five blocks, as the Black and Gold hit .051. Fisher and Garcia led the offense with a pair of kills. Tulane posted a pair of service aces, while the Knights committed three serving errors.
The Knights rebounded quickly in the second set with an early advantage. After Tulane cut the lead down to two, a Watson kill and a Fisher ace, one of two in the set for UCF, put the Black and Gold ahead 13-9, a lead that grew to as many as seven. Watson powered the attack with five kills, as the Knights hit. 281.
Out of the intermission, UCF jumped out to a 6-1 lead, only for the Green Wave to cut it down to one at 10-9. The Knights took control of the set on an 8-3 run, which opened up a five-point lead. The offense continued to churn out points with 15 kills at a .263 clip. Pingel was all over the place on the back row with seven digs.
Again, the Black and Gold took an early lead in the fourth, but Tulane managed to stay within four points in the opening stages. The turning point came when Kristina Fisher helped spark a 5-1 run to take a commanding 19-13 lead. The hosts would not go away quietly, as they cut the gap down to two at 22-20, but the Knights finished the match off with the final three points. Fisher turned in five kills in the final set. The defense held the Green Wave to a match-low .140 clip at the net.
NOTES TO KNOW
>> UCF is 8-1 on Fridays this season.
>> Melville notched her ninth double-double of the year with 15 digs.
>> Watson turned away five attacks, as the Knights finished with nine blocks.
Overall thoughts on the match...
This match just goes to prove that The American is a brutally tough conference to play in this season. The parity is so evident in the matches we’ve played and watched. Tulane was a really good team, and you can see why they beat Ole Miss, the same team that won the NIVC last season. They just had so many different ways of bringing it. In their environment, with all their screaming fans, it was a really tough place to play. I was really proud of how our team was able to execute and find another level to win the match. This team has the gumption and heart to execute under pressure.
On bouncing back after the first set…
I challenged the team going into the second set to find their comfort zone, keep things simple and execute. Tulane played will in that first game, but we just made so many errors that never allowed us to climb back into the set. The team responded extremely well, better than I’ve seen this season. They calmed down and showed how resilient this team is when facing adversity.
On the balance of the attack…
We’ve been looking for that balance for quite some time. We’ve been working on that diligently. To have so much production from so many players shows that we are getting to the balance that we’ll need in the long term. We can’t be a team that depends on one or two people. We were very diverse in the attack and followed the gameplan pretty well. I thought everyone stepped up in their role
On the role of the back line…
Our defense was really the difference in the match. Jordan was amazing. There were so many times that she was left with such a little block, but she just stayed in there any took balls off her shoulders and chest, just trying to keep the ball alive. It was one of the most disciplined performances I’ve ever seen her have. I was also really impressed by the performance of Erin and Amber. Teams are going to attack our setters, and those two rose to the occasion today.
UCF will head to Memphis for a 1 p.m. start time on Sunday.
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