ORLANDO, Fla. – The UCF volleyball team (1-2) closed out its opening weekend with a sweep over St. John's (0-3) but fell to No. 12 Penn State (2-1) on Saturday in The Venue at the UCF Challenge.
Despite going 1-2 on the weekend, the Knights competed well and put a lot of pressure on two top-25 teams, No. 12 Penn State and No. 24 Georgia Tech.
"I think the team should be really proud of how they performed against two teams that are going to be top-10 teams by the end of the year," head coach Dagenais said.
McKenna Melville was named to the All-Tournament team after a big offensive and defensive weekend. She notched 44 kills on the weekend and recorded her 1,000-career dig on Saturday morning. She is only the seventh player in program history to have 1,000-career digs and 1,000-career kills.
The Knights started the day off with a sweep over the Red Storm (25-20, 25-17, 25-23). The first set was tied at 18-18 before UCF went on a 7-2 run to take the set. The second set was a different story as the Knights got up to an early lead, 8-1, and never looked back. But St. John's came back and made a hard push in the third set where they led by as much as five (15-10) before the Knights finished the job.
McKenna Melville grabbed her No. 1,000 career dig and became only the seventh player in program history to record 1,000 digs and 1,000 kills. Melville also notched 14 kills, hitting .333.
Anne-Marie Watson added 11 kills while hitting an efficient .500 and adding six blocks. Tali Marmen also had a killer match as she tabbed nine kills and hit .333 while Nerissa Moravec hit for .300 and had six blocks. Amber Olson set up a great match with 33 assists.
NO. 12 PENN STATE
UCF was right there the entire match but fell to Penn State in three sets (25-27, 21-25, 19-25). The Knights came out strong and confident in the first set, leading 15-12 at the media timeout and getting the first set point 25-24. The Nittany Lions then barely edged their way to take the first set. They put the pressure on and didn't let Penn State get to far in the second set until the last few points. The Black and Gold did not let the two-set deficit get to them as they led most of the third set before the Nittany Lions took a 6-0 run.
Melville led the team with a double-double of 11 kills and 11 digs while Marmen added nine kills and Watson notched eight kills and hit .263. Moravec added five kills while hitting an efficient .333. Amber Olson had herself a match after adding 26 assists and one big kill for the Knights.
"We went out against a perennial powerhouse, they are one of the most storied programs in history," head coach Dagenais added, "I thought our energy was great and our execution in the first set was spectacular. I thought we had a chance to win that set … lot of teams would fold in that situation, but we did not, we cranked it up a notch. We were playing them point for point, but we need to find a way to close those sets out. We are going to get better."
The Knights will hit the road next week for the South Carolina Tournament. UCF will face Clemson and South Carolina twice on Thursday and Friday, Sep. 2-3 in Columbia, S.C.
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UCF Challenge All-Tournament Team:
MVP: Julia Bergmann (Georgia Tech)
Mariana Brambilla (Georgia Tech)
Bianca Bertolino (Georgia Tech)
Kaitlyn Hord (Penn State)
Jonni Parker (Penn State)
McKenna Melville (UCF)