UCF Volleyball Secures Road Victory Over SMU

Box Score (PDF)

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – The Knights (18-6, 11-1) secured the 3-1 victory (26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 25-19) over SMU (15-7, 8-4) Sunday afternoon in Dallas Texas, extending their winning streak to nine straight.

UCF had to fight hard for the victory as they narrowly took the first set, 26-24, before dropping the second set. They seemed to get stronger as the match went on, coming back strong in sets three and four, winning by four points and six points, respectively, to earn the 3-1 win.

"These November road matches are trap matches no matter who you play against," UCF Volleyball Head Coach Todd Dagenais said. "On the road, on a Sunday, this is one of those where there are not a lot of factors going in your favor, but I could not have been more proud of how this team handled their business maturely. They went out on the floor and executed and earned points. This was a really gritty road win."

McKenna Melville was crucial for the Knights in the victory as she posted 20 kills and 12 digs, and Lache Harper continued her strong defensive season as well, racking up 11 block assists to bring her block total on the year to 73.

The Knights return to The Venue next weekend as they will face off against ECU Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Cincinnati Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

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 got off to a slow start in the first set as they fell behind 8-3, but they began to claw back into it and Melville recorded a kill to tie it up at 10 apiece. The two sides traded blows all set, and were tied up at 24. A service error from SMU put UCF up 25-24 and an SMU attack error gave the Knights the 26-24 set victory.

The second set was neck-and-neck from the beginning as the lead swapped hands 13 times. SMU began to pull away, and with the Knights down 18-16, they called a timeout. Following the stoppage, SMU extended their lead to 21-16 and they would go on to take the second set 25-20, tying the match at one set apiece.

The Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead to begin the third set and remained out in front for the majority of the set. Following an SMU attacking error that put UCF up 17-13, the Mustangs called time. They began to work their way back into it, cutting the UCF lead to 22-20, but a clutch Melville kill put the Knights up 23-20 and SMU called another timeout. After SMU scored a point following the timeout, UCF answered with two consecutive points to win the third set, 25-21.

UCF didn't lose a stride as they transitioned into the fourth set, jumping out to a 7-2 lead before the Mustangs called time. The Knights kept their foot on the gas, extending their lead to 11-4 and SMU was forced to call their second timeout. SMU came back to make it a one-point game at 15-14, but UCF pulled back away, going on to win the final set, 25-19, and the match, 3-1.

[On rebounding after the second set]
"The second set, we just were not in sync early. We made some critical errors after fifteen that allowed the difference in points and they were able to close it out, but going into the third set, it turned out to be a defensive adjustment even more. That brought their hitting numbers down and elevated ours. So, to come away with the third set, we felt pretty good heading into the fourth set."

[On the Knights' blocking success]
[Blocking] is about making the right adjustments with your body, lining up correctly, putting your hands in the right spot. Anne-Marie Watson has been doing that for us all year long and it is so good to see Lache Harper be able to do that as well. For us to have a good defense, we have to block well."

[On next weekend's matchups against ECU and Cincinnati]
"I will look into those two teams more as the week goes on, but right now, I am thinking more about where are we, where we are wanting to go and how do we get there as a team? What do we need to work on, what's our weakness? We have to comb through all of that on film. The coaches and the players need to figure out what those things are. That is how we have to look at it. But, today, we get to enjoy the win."

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The Knights return to The Venue next weekend as they will face off against ECU Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Cincinnati Sunday at 1:00 p.m.