ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The historic 2018 season came to a close on Thursday night for the No. 21 UCF volleyball team. The Knights (27-4) fell in the First Round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament in five sets to FGCU.
The loss spelled an end to landmark career of Jordan Pingel, easily the best libero and one of the top players in program history. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native left it all on the court for the final time, recording 26 digs on then night. With her second save of the evening, Pingel broke the single-season digs record. The single-season and career digs champ at UCF finished with 597 on the year and 2,262 for her four seasons at UCF.
McKenna Melville turned in her 22nd double-double of the year. The American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year went for 24 kills, 16 digs and three blocks.
Olson had the lion’s share of setting duties with her 10th double-double of the year, a 42-dime, 15-dig performance. Alli Sabol also stepped up in a mixed setter-right side role. The Dublin, Ohio, native notched 10 assists with three digs and one block.
TURNING THE CORNER
UCF took a monumental step as a program in 2018. After a fifth-place finish last year in The American, the Knights turned to the youth movement, starting most matches with six underclassmen and anchored by the senior leadership of Pingel.
After a 3-3 start, the Knights did not lose for the remainder of the regular season, a span of 24-matches. Their perfect 18-0 mark in The American brought a second title to UCF in the last five years.
Melville, Pingel and Kristina Fisher were all named to The American First Team, and Anne-Marie Watson earned a spot on the league’s second team. The Knights set the single-season block assists record and earned the first ranking by the AVCA Coaches Poll in program history. That all culminated in the first national seed and hosting duties for the NCAA Tournament.
Pingel’s graduation will leave a tremendous void in the back row and in the locker room that rising seniors Erin Olson and Alli Sabol will need to meet. UCF returns its entire offensive and blocking output for 2019.
The future is bright for the Knights, and the 2018 season is just the start of an upward movement that will see UCF raise to the national stage.
NOTES TO KNOW
>> In the first NCAA Tournament match hosted in The Venue, the Knights set a new attendance record with 1,774 fans through the turnstiles.
>> The Black and Gold totaled 13 blocks, marking the 15th time the Knights hit double figures at the net.
>> The Knights’ 24-match winning streak was the fourth longest and the longest DI record in school history.
>> The 27-4 mark on the year was the best record for UCF since a 28-4 spot from the 1997 season, which also ended in the NCAA Tournament.
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