GREENVILLE, N.C. (ORLANDO, Fla.) – The UCF volleyball team extended its winning streak to 14 matches on Friday night with a sweep of ECU (25-19, 25-20, 25-21). With the win, the Knights (17-3, 8-0) continued to set the pace at the top of the American Athletic Conference, which sets up a clash with conference co-leaders Cincinnati on Sunday at 1 p.m.
In a venue that has traditionally challenged UCF, the Knights were in complete control throughout the match. The offense continued to find balance with a trio of players with double-digit kills, while the defense held an opponent below .175 hitting for the 10th time this season.
Per usual, outsides McKenna Melville and Kristina Fisher thrived offensively. Melville led the way with 14 kills. Fisher followed that up with 10 of her own at a .391 and just one error. For the first time this season, the two outsides finished with double-doubles in the match, as Melville notched 13 digs and Fisher 12.
Freshman Briana Garcia finished in double figures for the fourth time this season. The League City, Texas, native notched 10 kills on 27 swings for a .296 attack percentage.
On defense, Jordan Pingel continued her impressive run of play with 21 digs in just three sets. Setter Erin Olson fell one dig shy of her eighth double-double of the year, after finishing with 21 assists. Amber Olson picked up a quartet of stops to go along with her 15 dimes.
The Knights turned away eight ECU attacks on the night. Melville led the way with a trio of blocks, two solos, while Nerissa Moravec, Kathryn Wesolich, Anne-Marie Watson and Briana Garcia each picked up a pair of assists. Kristina Fisher and Amber Olson combined for a pair of stops, a solo and an assist, respectively.
The Knights took the opening salvo from the Pirates, falling behind 6-3. From that point on, it was all UCF. The Black and Gold rolled off 12-4 run to take a commanding 18-10 lead. Despite hitting sub-.200, the Knights were able to keep its distance by holding the hosts to a match-low .118 clip. Fisher and Melville teamed up for 11 of UCF’s 15 kills in the frame.
ECU kept pace with the Black and Gold through the opening stages, tying the game at 13-13. After an error by the Pirates, the Knights recorded back-to-back blocks from Fisher, followed by Moravec and Garcia to open a three-point lead. UCF pulled away for good with a 5-1 run to close out the frame. Garcia and Sabol were solid from the right side with six kills on a flawless .600 attack percentage.
Out of the break, the Black and Gold had to withstand ECU’s best set of the match. Down 16-14, the Knights closed out the frame on a 11-5 run, capped by Garcia’s 10th kill of the match. Melville and Garcia finished strong with six kills apiece at a combined .285 hitting mark. Amber Olson kept UCF rolling with 11 dimes in the final frame.
NOTES TO KNOW
>> The 14-match winning streak is the longest dating in more than two decades. It is the longest streak since 1997’s 22-match swing.
>> Pingel is averaging 6.27 digs per set over the last six matches. She has recorded at least 20 saves per match during that stretch.
>> At 8-0 to start league play, the Knights are off to the second-best in program history as a member of The American.
Overall thoughts on the match…
Traditionally, ECU has always been a difficult place for us to play well. All of our veterans know how hard it is to come in here and get comfortable. While we still had to find our rhythm, I thought we came in and played well. We were in complete control of our emotions, physicality and mental preparedness heading into tonight, which followed a week of practice that wasn’t our best. I was proud of how we were able to come in and execute the way we planned all week.
On the balance of the offense…
Kristina and McKenna did a nice job for us tonight on the outside. Our middles were great in helping us find some balance. Alli Sabol stepped up and played a big role for us in the second set. It was nice to see Bri have a solid game offensively. Erin and Amber did a great job of finding different players to keep our attack balanced.
On the play of the defense…
I thought we were stellar defensively. We stuck to our blocking assignments and forced them to hit shots that they didn’t want to hit. When that happened, we were there to keep the ball up. Jordan had another solid match for us with seven digs per set. I’m really happy that we were able to find balance tonight. It’s a good start heading into a big match at Cincinnati on Sunday.
On Knight Nation representing on the road…
We hope that this is the start of a huge UCF weekend in Greenville. I want to thank the administration, donors and boosters for coming out and cheering us on. It made us feel like we were back in The Venue in front of our home crowd.
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