Knights Heavily Represented in Conference Awards

ORLANDO – The American Athletic Conference announced its 2020-21 All-Conference regular season awards on Monday and McKenna Melville was tabbed as the league's Player of the year while three Knights in total were named to the All-Conference teams. Anne-Marie Watson and McKenna Melville were named All-Conference First Team while Nerissa Moravec garnered second team honors.

The honor marks Melville's third and Watson's second as the duo were also named First Team in 2019 after their historic run last season. Moravec earns the recognition for the first time in her career.

Melville's Player of the Year award may come as little surprise to those that saw her in action in 2020-21. Playing all 60 sets for a Knights team that went 16-1 overall and an undefeated, 8-0 in league play, Melville was UCF's primary outside hitter, leading the team in kills (4.58 per set), points (5.18 per set) and total attacks (712). Melville is currently on pace to break the UCF single-season record for kills per set (4.51, set by Melville in her freshman season in 2018).

"McKenna elevated her game even more this year, really extenuating the serving, defense, the serve-receive and more," said head coach Todd Dagenais. "We even used her as a Libero when she was in the back row and put her in position to really take the front-line fire from our opponents… I don't think there was any doubt that she was the most feared attacker in the league this year, and she is extremely deserving of being recognized as both an All-Conference First Team player as well as conference Player of the Year.

A true six-rotation player, Melville shined defensively as well, sitting at second on the team with 2.88 digs per set and chipping in a solid 32 total blocks on the season, including seven solos, good for second on the team. Her eight double-doubles led the team in 2020-21.

The junior from Eagan, Minnesota was among the best players in the nation for a third straight season. Melville was 23rd in the country in attacks per set (11.87), 11th in kills per set (4.58) and 10th in points per set (5.17).

Melville was named conference Player of the Week on Feb. 1 and was tabbed as the preseason Player of the Year heading into the season. Melville has also been named to the conference honor roll four times this season.

"I thought there were parts of McKenna's annual performance that put her in contention of being conference player of the year in all three years that she has been at UCF. The only thing that stopped that from happening was the fact that there was an Olympian-level athlete in our conference in Jordan Thompson.

"Despite all of McKenna's early-career success, instead of coming in every day with an attitude of entitlement, she comes in with an attitude of 'what can I get better at today?' There is not a single player on the team that works more on her game both on and off the court than McKenna.

"This is an award that represents the amount of hours and shear sweat and time that McKenna puts into her game to make sure that her team is the best it can be."

Melville was also one of two players in the conference unanimously tabbed as a First Team All-Conference nominee (Abbie Jackson, So., OH, Houston).

Also named First Team All-Conference, Anne-Marie Watson was lights out for the Knights from the right side in 2020-21 as she was one of only two players to play in all 60 sets for UCF throughout the season. Watson was a dual threat for the Knight as both an attacker and a blocker as she was second on the team with 2.30 kills per set and third on the squad with 1.02 blocks per set (10th in the conference). Her 66 total blocks were good for sixth place in the conference this season.

The senior from Oviedo, Florida guided UCF to a 3-1 record against AVCA top 100 teams, posting 33 kills and 12 total blocks in 18 sets. On March 29, Watson earned her first career conference Player of the Week award after helping guide UCF to a season-ending sweep against rival South Florida to complete an undefeated 8-0 campaign in the East Division of The American.

"Anne-Marie has been on a steady climb since her freshman year, establishing herself as one of the most dominant right side blockers in the nation. She has put up All-American middle blocker numbers from the right side, which is very rare. Then, you add to that that she played such a major role in our offensive scheme this year. I think this year, teams realized that she has completely rounded out her game."

A second team all-conference honoree, Nerissa Moravec posted a career-year for UCF in 2020-21. Moravec was the anchor of a UCF blocking game that was eighth in the country. Moravec led the Knights, was first in the conference and 21st in the nation with 1.38 blocks per set. She also led the team in total blocks with 35, good for second in the conference and 35th in the country.

Moravec was two-time conference Player of the Week in 2020-21 and her .410 hitting percentage is currently an all-time UCF high if it holds (.409 by Lache Harper in 2019).

"Nerissa hit for such a huge percentage on the attacks that she got this year, and then you add on to that that she is one of the top blockers in the nation. She has found a lot of ways to score points for the team, and in the meantime, has stopped our opponents from scoring points, so she is very deserving of being named all-conference and I am very proud of her for her effort this season."

The Knights also garnered All-Conference attention in other respects as Todd Dagenais was named Co-Coach of the Year.

Back in the NCAA Tournament for the third season in a row, Dagenais and the Knights will open the tournament against High Point on Wednesday, April 14 in Omaha, Nebraska. The first-round match is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ESPN3.

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