UCF Returns Home to Take on Houston, Tulane

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UCF vs. Houston
Friday, Oct. 25 | 7:00 PM
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UCF vs. Tulane
Sunday, Oct. 27 | 2:00 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. ( – The UCF volleyball team (14-6, 7-1) will return home to The Venue this weekend as they take on Houston (13-10, 7-1) Friday night at 7:00 p.m. before turning around and squaring off against Tulane (15-6, 5-3) Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.

Each match will be streamed live, with the Sunday afternoon match being covered by the American Digital Network. It will be the second time this season that the Knights have been covered by the network as their match in Cincinnati earlier this season was also broadcasted.
UCF is in the midst of a five-game winning streak, including winning eight of their last nine. In that time, they have outscored opponents 24-5. They are 14-6 on the season and 7-1 in conference action.

The Knights have enjoyed depth on the roster as multiple players at each position have risen to the occasion as of late to prove that they can contribute in a meaningful way. Last weekend, middle blocker Lache Harper posted over two blocks per set while also tallying 12 digs and six kills. She was named to the conference honor roll for her exceptional performance.

In the latest RPI, UCF is ranked 34 overall. The Black and Gold already have two wins over top-27 teams as well as four wins over top-50 teams. Last season, UCF was ranked as high as ninth in the RPI.

The Knights head into their Friday night match coming off an undefeated weekend that saw them sweep Wichita State and Tulsa. They maintain the lead in The American in blocks per set (2.95), a statistic they have led the league in for most of the year. They are also top-three in hitting percentage (.270), opponent hitting percentage (.187), assists per set (12.93) and kills per set (13.76).

"These cross-divisional matches end up in the tie-breakers for placement and seeding into the tournament. More than anything else, it is a conference match, and the seeding starts with what your conference record is," said UCF Volleyball Head Coach Todd Dagenais. "We want to put ourselves in position to make the conference tournament. The top six teams go. We are on our way to doing that right now, but we have to win the highest seed possible. So that makes these matches important, but whatever our record is in the end and whatever seed we have in the end, we will deal with it. We will play who is in front of us and do the best we can to try to win a conference championship."

McKenna Melville remains at number two in the conference with 4.30 kills per set, trailing only Cincinnati's Jordan Thompson (6.14).
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The Knights will kick off their weekend homestand by taking on the Houston Cougars Friday night at 7:0 p.m. in The Venue. The Cougars have surpassed expectations to this point in the season, posting a 13-10 overall record, with a 7-1 record in conference play. They narrowly dropped their last match, 2-3 against Cincinnati last time out. The Knights will look to even the all-time series versus Houston as they currently trail 11-12, despite beating them twice last season.

UCF will wrap up their weekend by taking on the Tulane Green Wave Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Tulane is 15-6 on the season so far and own a 5-3 record in conference play after dropping their last match in five sets against ECU. The Green Wave is lead defensively by senior Libero Kaylie McHugh, who owns an average of 4.60 digs per set. UCF leads the all-time record against Tulane, 16-8, with the Knights winning the last matchup on the road last season, 3-1.

[On facing Houston]
"David [Rehr] has done an amazing job with Houston this year. They were picked to finish at or near the bottom of the conference, but then they go and rattle off their first seven before barely losing to Cincinnati. They are really the surprise of the conference… They are going to do everything. They are going to throw different play sets, combinations, players at us. They are going to try to frustrate us."

[On returning to The Venue]
"When you train during the course of the year, you train to put up a consistent performance whether you are at home or on the road… you take whatever facility you are in, and you try to shrink it down to just between the poles. It doesn't matter what court you are on. The dimensions are still the same, and everything else disappears. I'd be lying if I told you, that when we are at home and we get a big kill, that our team doesn't hear the roar of the crowd. Of course they do, and of course that sparks them, but what it doesn't do is it doesn't affect them for the next point."
[On where the team is in relation to the beginning of the year]
"I think, defensively, we have done a pretty steady job across the board. I think we are getting settled into what our blocking scheme is, what our defensive scheme is, what adjustments we make, and we haven't deviated much from that… there is more room to grow in that area, but we haven't needed to yet. We do need to improve individually, and we can do that, but I think, system wise, we are doing some good things and there is no need to change a whole lot right now. We will only adjust if we have to."

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

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