ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – Riding a 17-match winning streak, the UCF volleyball team will hit the road for a pair of matches in the American Athletic Conference this weekend at UConn on Thursday and Temple on Saturday. The No. 23 Knights have a two-match lead at the top of the conference.
Here are five things to know heading into the UConn and Temple weekend:
LAST TIME OUT
After a key conference victory at Cincinnati two weeks ago, the Black and Gold returned to The Venue to square off with Houston and SMU. UCF faced one of its toughest tests against the Cougars on Friday, falling behind 2-1. The Knights rallied with 25 kills and just four errors over the final two frames to win in five.
On Sunday, UCF posted one if its beset offensive outputs of the year in a four-set win over the Mustangs. The Black and Gold struck for at least 13 kills in all four frames and kept errors to a minimum, hitting over .420 in two sets.
IN THE POLLS
One week after breaking into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top-25 for the first time in program history, UCF jumped up two spots in this week’s rankings to No. 23. The Knights are also the only team from The American in the top 15 of the NCAA RPI rankings this week, checking in at No. 11.
Freshman McKenna Melville posted back-to-back career performances over the weekend. The outside hitter struck for a career-high 27 kills and 20 digs against Houston, becoming the first Knight since 2011 to record a 20-kill, 20-dig match. The rookie followed that performance up on Sunday with another career high in kills of 28. Melville was named The American Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight time and earned the VolleyMob Player of the Week honor.
The Knights enter the weekend tied for the fifth longest active winning streak in the nation with Texas State. The offense has churned to the tune of a .250 attack percentage and 13.89 kills per set, led by Melville’s 4.42. While the offense has been unstoppable, the block has been a big part of the Knights’ success with 2.86 rejections per frame, which equals out to 11.12 per match. Jordan Pingel has been a rock in the back with 5.14 digs per set.
>> UConn enters the weekend looking to snap a five-match losing streak that has the Huskies at 11-13 on the year and 3-8 in conference play. A highlight of late for the Huskies has been setter Emma Turner, who leads the league with 9.51 assists per set. Freshman Caylee Parker is third in the conference with 4.31 points per set, trailing Melville and Cincinnati’s Jordan Thompson.
>> At 5-18 on the year, Temple has dropped nine of its opening 11 matches in The American. The Owls are averaging 12.4 kills and 1.9 blocks per set. Dana Westfield leads a quintet of Owls averaging over two kills per set with her 2.4.
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