UCF Volleyball Continues the War on I-4

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Friday, Nov. 1 | 7:00 PM
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Sunday, Nov. 3 | 2:00 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. ( – The UCF volleyball team (16-6, 9-1) will continue the War on I-4 this weekend as they take on USF (7-17, 7-1) Friday night at 7:00 p.m. The Knights will then pack up and head to Dallas, Texas as they face SMU (14-6, 7-3) Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET.

For the first time this year, USF will take the bus down I-4 as the Knights will host the Bulls after defeating them on their home court, 3-1, earlier in the season. UCF has not lost to USF since 2012, or in over 2,600 days. 
The War on I-4 has been all Knights since the two programs joined the American Athletic Conference back in 2013. Not only has UCF never lost to USF since joining The American, but they have won by a combined score of 39-8. A victory would push their streak over USF to 14 straight wins. 
"I know USF is going to come in hungry, they always come in here with a ton of passion," UCF Volleyball Head Coach Todd Dagenais said. "They play hard every single time we play them and, with what's considered to be a classic rivalry game, you can throw everything out. We just have to remember that it's about serve and pass, it's about taking care of the ball, it's about managing the game, staying organized, staying composed, and staying in the moment, and getting on the floor and playing. It's going to be a great match, for both teams and fans to watch."

UCF will honor and welcome back former players who have donned the Black & Gold over the years as past Knights will be recognized for their contributions to the program during the Friday night home match. There will be a reception to follow in the Black and Gold Club.

On Saturday, November 2, the alumni and their family are invited to attend an all-sports tailgate before the UCF football game where the Knights will take on Houston at a time to be determined.

"We have been trying for years to put together a proper alumni weekend, and now with the additional resources and additional people involved in this, we feel as though we are finally able to welcome back our alumni from all generations properly," said UCF Volleyball Head Coach Todd Dagenais. "It is an honor to be able to recognize them during our match and have them on campus for volleyball and football games, allowing them the opportunity to reminisce, share stories, see what UCF Volleyball is now, and see how much UCF has changed since they were students here."

The Knights also plan to honor all-time kill leader and UCF standout Renata Menchikova during the match by inducting her into the Ring of Honor after the second set. More on Menchikova's introduction here.

UCF is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, including winning ten of their last eleven. In that time, they have outscored opponents 30-6. All-in-all, they are 16-6 on the season and 9-1 in conference action.

Last weekend, Knights libero Mckenzie Kuchmaner was a force on the back row as she was named the league's defensive player of the week. Helping to lead UCF to wins over Houston and Tulane, she racked up her 300th dig of the 2019 season and, in the two matches, she posted 5.57 digs per set and also tacked on double-digit assists and a service ace to boot.

In the latest RPI, UCF is ranked 27 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 where they swept Houston and defeated Tulane at home. UCF maintains the lead in The American in blocks per set (2.93), a statistic they have led the league in for most of the year. They are also top-three in hitting percentage (.272), opponent hitting percentage (.190), assists per set (13.07) and kills per set (13.90).
"We're still trying to get better. To us, it's still September and we're still trying to get better, we still have things we want to get better at, and yeah sure, there's goals down the road but that's down the road, and right now we have to worry about playing two tough conference teams," said Dagenais. "We have to worry about we can, and we have to worry about our side of the net."

Although they are playing well as a unit, the Knights are receiving key contributions from individuals. Namely, McKenna Melville, who remains at number two in the conference with 4.32 kills per set, trailing only Cincinnati's Jordan Thompson (6.24), and Lache Harper, who is second in the conference in blocks per set with 1.36.
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 begin their weekend with a Friday night match against USF. The Bulls have posted a 7-17 overall record to this point in the season and are 1-9 in conference play after dropping their last nine matches. UCF has not lost a match to USF since 2012, including winning their last time out earlier this season by a score of 3-1. Despite the Knights' recent success over the Bulls, UCF is 37-45 all-time against USF.

SMU is 14-6 overall, 7-3 in The American, with wins in its last seven matches before falling to Cincinnati this past Sunday. The Mustangs are 5-0 at home in conference matches this season and 8-1 in Moody Colisuem overall. Their schedule also includes wins against TCU and Dayton, receiving votes at the time of the match. Hannah Jacobs leads the team with 3.41 kills per set and is one of three SMU attackers averaging at least three kills per set. UCF is 7-13 all-time against the Mustangs after defeating them twice last season.

[On facing USF]
"USF is so difficult to prepare for. They running different line ups, run different systems, run different players, and it's really hard to prepare for them, so I think for us, we have to take care of ourselves, otherwise, if we keep trying to matchup against them, or predict what they're going to do, we're going to find ourselves chasing and we don't want to chase… I know USF is going to come in hungry, they always come in here with a ton of passion, they play hard every single time we play them and with what's considered a classic rivalry game you can throw everything out."

[On facing SMU]
"They bring back a pretty big chunk pf their lineup from last year. Their lineup has changed a little bit, but not much. I think they really deliver one of the best right-side attacks in the conference and their left-side hitters are very consistent. I think they're just all around good volleyball players who are extremely well coached by a veteran coach and a very veteran coaching staff that's been around for a very long time. Both teams were young last year, and now both teams are a year older this year, so it's going to be a classic UCF, SMU battle. It still comes down to the fundamentals of the game, how we adjust, and how we perform on the road."

[On Alumni Weekend]
"We've tried to begin the process of linking together all generations of UCF Volleyball… We're going to honor one of the greatest, if not the greatest, volleyball player ever to play at UCF in [Renata Menchikova]. It will be a nice weekend to have everyone back and I am excited to see how this then grows once we have the six or seven months to plan it in the future. This is hopefully the start of something that's going to continue to grow more and more. We're proud to have our alumni back and we hope they're proud to come back and see what campus has become, what the university has become, how the program is being run, and just to have everyone back for a weekend will be nice.

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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