UCF Upsets No. 14 Ranked Illinois, 3-1

Box Score

NORMAL, Ill. ( – UCF Volleyball took down defending final four team and No. 14 ranked Illinois (2-4) in four sets on Saturday morning (25-21, 25-20, 22-25, 25-20) at the Redbird Classic in Normal, Ill.

After almost upsetting No. 7 ranked Marquette in five sets last night, the Knights came out with a vengeance today and looked to be on a mission to prove what they were capable of. They took the first two sets against Illinois by at least four points and, after dropping the third set, secured the win in the fourth set to take down the Illini, 3-1.

"I thought we played steady against a powerful Big Ten team." UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. "They have a lot of players with a lot of experience and confidence on their side of the net. I thought that we went out and we had our attacker's mentality. Although we had moments where we struggled, we were able to pull ourselves out of that quickly and not allow Illinois to go on too many runs of points. It was a competitive battle…. Everybody went out there and held their own against a team that is a perennial national power."

McKenna Melville posted her second consecutive 21 kill match at the Redbird Classic, hitting at a .320 clip. Kristina Fisher also turned in an all-around performance, tallying 15 digs to go along with nine kills and two blocks.
Amber Olson was a large contributor to the offense as she had 29 assists for the Knights, while her sister, Erin Olson, had 21 assists and nine digs.

The victory marked the sixth of the season for the Knights. They will play Redbird Classic host school Illinois State at 6:30 pm ET later today.
Continue to follow UCF Volleyball on Facebook (/UCF.Volleyball), Twitter (@UCF_Volleyball) and Instagram (@UCF.Volleyball) for the latest on the UCF volleyball team.

The Knights began the match with a three-point run, including two kills from Anne-Marie Watson, to put UCF up 3-0 early. The Knights then pulled out to a comfortable 12-6 lead before Illinois began to settle in and tie the set. With the two sides still tied at 20, UCF went on a 5-1 run, and Anne-Marie Watson finished the set the same way she started it, with a kill to finish and win the set for the Knights.

The second set began with both sides trading blows until the Knights went on a four-point run to give them the 11-7 lead, forcing Illinois to call a timeout. Despite the stoppage, the Knights kept their momentum, charging on to a 25-20 set victory. McKenna Melville had 10 kills, shooting at a .562 clip to lead the way for the Knights in the set.

Illinois battled back in the third set, going up 2-0 early. They fell behind only once in the set when UCF went up 5-4, but quickly retook the lead and would not relinquish it. The Knights kept the set close, never trailing by more than five, but the Illini eventually went on to win by a score of 25-22.

After going back-and-forth with Illinois to begin the fourth set, UCF found themselves behind 14-11 before going on a 7-1 run to take the 18-15 lead. MaKenzie Chambers had five kills in the set and shot a perfect 1.000 percent to help the Knights maintain the lead throughout the rest of the set. The Knights went on to win 25-20 to claim the victory over No. 14 ranked and defending final four team Illinois.

On defeating a defending final four team:
"I feel like we are headed in the right direction. We really feel like we are a team that should be competing and able to win against these types of teams. We feel like we have put in the work to be able to go out and compete against these guys. This win gives us that reassurance that we are headed in the right direction, that we have the ability to go out there and not just compete, but win too."

On bouncing back after the close loss to No. 7 ranked Marquette:
"I think the team did a great job of having amnesia. I think they were upset and hurt and disappointed in themselves… but waking up this morning, they were alert, they were ready to go, they were engaged in film prep. They started off the match strong and you could tell they had amnesia and forgot about last night. They did a fantastic job of putting it behind them and executing."

On the preparing for their second match of the day:
"Really, the formula for the team is not a secret. It's just to go out and execute whatever the gameplan is and to go out there and be in the moment and play the point they are playing. Don't worry about the last one, don't worry about the next one. We just have to go out and execute."

Continue to follow UCF Volleyball on social media on Facebook (/UCF.Volleyball), Twitter (UCF_Volleyball) and Instagram (UCF.Volleyball) for the latest on the UCF volleyball season.

The Knights will play the second game of their double-header later today as they take on host Illinois State at 6:30 pm ET. The game will be streamed live on ESPN +.