UCF vs. #7 Marquette
UCF vs. #14 Illinois
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The Knights will head to Normal, Illinois this weekend to take on two top-20 ranked opponents as well as host school Illinois State in the Redbird Classic.
The Knights' first match is on Friday as they take on No. 7 Marquette, followed by a double-header on Saturday against No. 14 Illinois and Illinois State. All three matches will have live stats and the Illinois State match will be broadcasted live on ESPN +.
UCF Volleyball is off to a stellar start to begin the 2019 season, going 5-1 overall, including a sweep over its competition last weekend at the UCF Challenge, where they did not drop a single set in three matches played.
The Black and Gold currently lead The American in Assists per Set (13.50), Kills per Set (14.32) and Blocks per Set (2.55), and are fourth in hitting percentage (.256%).
McKenna Melville and Anne-Marie Watson have already received Weekly Honor Roll mentions from The American for their performances over the first two weeks of the season. So far in 2019, the pair have combined for 155 total kills and 31 total blocks.
Three Knights earned All-Tournament honors at the UCF Challenge last weekend, including Watson, MaKenzie Chambers and Kristina Fisher, who was also named Tournament MVP. Watson was second on the team in kills over the weekend with 31, good for a .279 hitting percentage. Chambers had 29 kills of her own and was second on the team with a .333 hitting percentage. Fisher turned in an all-around performance over the weekend for the Knights, posting 21 kills to go along with 27 digs and two assists.
Middle Blocker Nerissa Moravec is another Knight who has had a notable start to her season as she is currently top-40 in the country and fourth in the conference in Blocks per Set (1.45).
The Knights kick off their weekend slate with a matchup against No. 7 ranked Marquette, who is coming off a 2-1 weekend, including wins over No. 4 ranked Wisconsin and Syracuse. The Golden Eagles are coming off a 2018 season in which they went 28-7 and finished No. 15 in the polls. They lost just three players from last season's squad that advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 for the first time. UCF has faced off against Marquette one time in program history, falling to them in 2014. The Knights will have their shot at redemption as they play Marquette on Friday, September 13 at 5:30 pm ET.
The Illini are off to a 2-2 start to their 2019 season. After beginning the year ranked No. 5, they are down to No. 14 after weekend losses to No. 16 Washington and Colorado. Illinois volleyball senior Jacqueline Quade was named a unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten honoree as voted on by the Big Ten Conference coaches to start the season. So far in 2019, she has 5.22 Kills per Set and is hitting at a .279 clip. The Knights are 0-1 all-time against Illinois, with their only matchup coming in 2012. UCF will take on Illinois Saturday, September 14 at 11:00 am ET.
The Knights will close out their weekend by taking on host Illinois State Saturday at 6:30 pm ET. Like the Knights, the Redbirds are off to a 5-1 start to the season, including a three-match sweep of its competition last weekend at the Oral Roberts Tournament. Junior Kaylee Martin has led the way for Illinois State so far this season, posting 3.78 Kills per Set to go along with a .286 hitting percentage. The Black and Gold have faced off against Illinois State once in program history, earning the win back in 2003.
On the weekend outlook:
"I don't think you put any more emphasis on this weekend than you do any other weekend. We take each week individually and we take one match one at a time. There is no more importance this weekend than there is any other weekend. This weekend is an opportunity to go out and play three NCAA tournament teams. It is a measure for us to see where we are and what we need to work on to be ready for November."
On where the team is in relation to their potential:
"We are operating on about twenty percent of our playbook right now. Defensively, we are operating on almost the majority – about eighty percent, so there is still a lot of room, especially offensively, to grow. There is still stuff we can do with personnel – we have personnel that have not played very much that add a different dimension to our team. We have to find a way to start integrating some of that with the time that we have. When I look at the potential of this team and where we are, if I had to put a number on it, I would say we are maybe twenty or twenty-five percent of what I think we can be."
On the takeaways from the UCF Challenge:
"The resilience, the composure in tight situations. We force teams to beat us and we do not fold. We have been able to make plays. That was a hallmark of last year's team. The things we need to work on are all things we can fix in a matter of two or three weeks and we can put ourselves in a situation to make a good push come October."
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UCF will host its second tournament of the season from September 20 – 21 as the Knights will take on FGCU, Miami, and FAU in the Sunshine State Classic. You can purchase tickets to any of UCF's three matches here.