ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – After clinching a share of its second American Athletic Conference title, the No. 21 UCF volleyball team will head out for its final road trip of the 201 regular season this weekend. The Knights (24-3, 15-0) will face SMU on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. (ET), before going up against Houston on Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET).
Here are five things to know heading into the SMU and Houston series:
LAST TIME OUT
The Knights extended their winning streak to 21 matches last weekend with a pair of wins against Cincinnati and ECU in The Venue. The Black and Gold rallied from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Bearcats last Friday night over five sets. McKenna Melville posted her second 20-20 match of the year with 26 kills and 20 digs. On Sunday, UCF clinched a share of the American Athletic Conference title with a sweep of ECU. Briana Garcia led the way with 12 kills, as the Knights posted a .340 clip at the net.
UCF earned its second league championship in the second in five years last weekend. The Knights need one more win to clinch the title outright. The league title was the Knights’ ninth in program history, including seven from the A-SUN between 1994 and 2003. The Black and Gold will make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2014. UCF joined SMU as the only two programs to win multiple American Athletic Conference titles.
A major part of UCF’s success this season has come through the block. The Knights continue to move up the national rankings at a nice pace, checking in this week at No. 17 with 2.69 blocks per set. With 274.5 rejections this season, the Black and Gold are just 77.5 blocks away from eclipsing the single-season record of 352. Kathryn Wesolich is second in The American with 123 stuffs. The rookie is just 22 away from tying Emily Bridson’s 1993 single-season record.
While the block has been instrumental in scoring points and disrupting opponents’ attacks, the setting sisters of Amber Olson and Erin Olson have been instrumental in running one of the top offenses in the nation. UCF is 19th in the country with 13.23 assists per set, led by Erin’s 6.40, which is ninth in The American.
• The Mustangs are 11-14 on the year and 8-7 in The American. The Mustangs have one of the strongest back rows in the league with 17.44 digs per set, good for second in the conference, led by libero Montana Watt’s 5.49.
• Houston completed its season sweep of Wichita State last weekend on the road to improve to 16-14 on the year and 3-12 in the conference. The Cougars boast the third best opponent hitting percentage in the league at .182.
GET THE APP
Never miss any UCF Knights news from your favorite team by downloading the free UCF Knights app right to your iOS or Android phone! The app provides personalized information for men's and women's teams, scores, schedules, loyalty programs and even breaking news.