UCF Sweeps Day One of VolleyKnights Invite

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – Efficient offense and solid defense ruled the opening day of the VolleyKnights Invitational for the UCF volleyball team. The Knights (8-3) extended its winning streak to five matches with a pair of sweeps.

The Black and Gold posted a pair of .300-plus offensive outings, totaling .371 over the two matches, while limiting Alabama State and FGCU to sub-.100 clips at the net. McKenna Melville recorded 35 kills over six sets and notched a .435 attack percentage in both matches.

GAME ONE vs. Alabama State
Powered by a season-high .374 attack percentage, the Knights opened the weekend with a thoroughly impressive offensive performance against the Lady Hornets. The Black and Gold cruised in the opening two frames, never surrendering the lead.

UCF hit a combined .456 in the first two sets with side out percentages of 82 and 76-percent. Anne-Marie Watson powered the way with 13 kills on a cool .600 clip at the net and one error. McKenna Melville followed in double-figure kills with 11 on 23 swings for a .435 hitting percentage. Middles Kathryn Wesolich and Nerissa Moravec were efficient with 12 combined kills and a .588 attack mark.

The service game also produced points for the Black and Gold. UCF notched a season-high eight service aces, led by Wesolich with three.

The defense never allowed Alabama State to find its rhythm offensively until the third set and held the Lady Hornets to .184. It was the sixth time that UCF held a team under .200 hitting this season. The Knights finished with six blocks, led by Wesolich’s four assists. Libero Jordan Pingel anchored the back line and posted 12 digs, while Melville, Erin Olson and Bailey Wilson notched five digs apiece.

The Knights opened strong in the first set, scoring eight of the first 10 points. Alabama State narrowed the gap to four at 12-8, before the Black and Gold took an insurmountable lead at 20-12. UCF hit a match-high .464 compared to ASU’s .111 clip. Melville struck four times on the attack, and Kristina Fisher notched a trio of scores.

The efficient start continued into the second frame, as UCF opened an early six-point lead at 10-4. The Knights only allowed the gap to be shortened to five at one point but maintained their lead until the end. Anne-Marie Watson scored on five of her eight swings. Moravec and Fisher were perfect on all their attacks for seven combined kills.

The third set was a tighter affair. Alabama State took a two-point lead in the early stages, but a kill by Wesolich and a block by Olson and Wesolich tied the game up at 8-8. Tied at 16-16, the Knights created enough space to close out the match with a six-point run. Watson finished strong with six kills in the final frame, and Wesolich hit .800 with four kills.

UCF completed its season sweep of FGCU in the nightcap. The offense continued to roll at .371 hitting and at least 14 kills in all three sets, including a 20-kill second set.   

The attack found its strength in Melville, as the rookie converted 24 of her 46 swings into kills with just four errors. The Eagan, Minn., native also posted 10 digs for her sixth double-double of the year. Melville was the lone Knight to record an ace against FGCU. Only, she recorded career-best four. 

Other top offense producers featured a .500 clip from Wesolich’s six kills, and Fisher drove eight attacks for scores. The Knights’ nine errors were their fewest of the season and the fewest since Nov. 17, 2017, at Temple.

The block did its job by dampening any streaks that the Eagles put together. Moravec led the way with five rejections, two solos, as the Black and Gold finished with nine swats. Pingel posted 16 digs on the back line.

Neither side created much of a gap in the opening stages with four lead changes and six ties. The Knights cranked out five straight points to open up a 19-13 advantage to take control. Melville and Watson combined for 10 of UCF’s 14 kills in the set. The defense recorded five blocks with solos from Moravec, Melville and Watson. The defense limited FGCU to a match-low .129 hitting and a 41-percent sideout percentage.

Similar to the first, the two ballclubs stayed within reach of each other. Down by three at 7-10, The Knights managed to erase the deficit at 12-12. A kill by Garcia put the Knights ahead for good at 17-16, before Melville closed it out with three of the final four points, as she tallied 10 kills in the frame. Fisher chipped in five scoring swings on 10 attempts with no errors.

Kills by Watson and Melville sparked a three-point run for the Knights to take a 16-13 lead. That breathing space provided just enough distance to hold off the Eagles, before finishing on a 7-2 run. Yet again, Melville sparked the offense with eight kills. Jordan Pingel kept FGCU from finding the floor with her 10 digs. The Eagles hit .174 for the final game.

On the team’s performance for the day…
I thought we came out strong in the first match. Physically, I thought we dominated. They brought a lot of emotion in the third set, and we weren’t able to match it. I was a little disappointed by that. In the second match, I thought we were able to play a full and complete match, and I was really proud of them for that.

On the five-match winning streak…
I honestly didn’t know that it was five in a row. I knew that it was one in a row. That’s all we’re focused on. We aren’t looking ahead or behind. We just want to prepare for the next match in order to execute the way we want to. We want to be consistent in the serve and pass game, communicate well and manage crazy situations.

On playing two matches in one day…
We set up these types of days in order to prepare our team for the conference season. We want to work out some things in order to play more players. It’s a little taxing on the body. I give the team a lot of credit for being able to fight through the adversity and get two good wins.

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