ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The UCF Volleyball team (6-3) returns home this weekend as Miami (2-3), FGCU (7-2) and FAU (6-2) all come to town for the Sunshine State Classic at The Venue in Orlando, Fla.
A two-day, six-match tournament, the Knights will take on FGCU Friday night at 7:00 p.m. before turning around and playing a double-header on Saturday that features Miami at 11 a.m. followed by FAU at 7:00 p.m. The Black and Gold went 2-1 at last year's Sunshine State Classic, with wins over FGCU and FAU.
UCF is coming off a weekend in which it beat then No. 14 Illinois and almost upset No. 7 Marquette and host Illinois State on their home court. After three weekends of play, UCF is off to a 6-3 start to begin the season. The Sunshine State Classic will represent the last non-conference matches for the Knights as conference play begins next weekend, September 27, as UCF takes on UConn.
The Knights are undefeated in The Venue to this point in the season after sweeping its competition at the UCF Challenge two weekends ago. The Black and Gold currently lead The American in blocks per set (2.56), and are top-five in digs per set (15.39), kills per set (13.36), assists per set (12.64) and hitting percentage (.236).
McKenna Melville and Anne-Marie Watson have already received Weekly Honor Roll mentions from The American for their performances over the first three weeks of the season, with Melville earning back-to-back honors in weeks two and three. So far in 2019, the pair have combined for 247 total kills and 57 total blocks.
Melville is currently top-five in the conference in kills per set (4.00) while middle blocker Nerissa Moravec is another Knight who has had a notable start to her season as she is currently fourth in the conference in blocks per set (1.28).
Florida Gulf Coast finished 2018 with a 27-7 overall record, including going 15-1 in conference play. They made it all the way to the second round of the NCAA tournament before falling to the University of Florida in three sets. Led by sixth year head coach Matt Botsford, the Eagles were undefeated headed into last week, where they lost two of three in the Bluegrass Battle to bring them to a 7-2 record on the 2019 season.
Miami is off to a 2-3 start to begin the season after finishing 13-12 last year. The Hurricanes are led by freshman outside hitter Kennedy Prince, who has at least 14 kills in every match to go along with 36 total digs through five matches. Head coach Jose Gandara recorded his 100th career win at Miami in last year's event.
The Owls, who went 21-7 last year, have taken then No. 22 Florida State to five sets this year and knocked off TCU on the road in five. They also have another strong win over Boston College in four sets. One of their top players will be junior outside hitter Sydney Nemtuda, who has team-highs in kills (80) and digs (94) along with eight aces and seven blocks.
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The Sunshine State Classic will represent the last non-conference matches for the Knights as conference play begins next weekend, September 27, as UCF takes on UConn. You can purchase tickets to that match here.