COLUMBIA, S.C. – The UCF volleyball team (2-3) went 1-1 on the first day of the Palmetto Showdown in Columbia, SC. The Knights topped Clemson (2-1) but dropped their match against No. 24 South Carolina (3-1).
"I am really proud of the fight and proud of the effort," head coach Todd Dagenais said.
UCF first matched up against Clemson where the Knights won 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-17, 25-18). The Knights took charge in the first set, forcing Clemson to call two timeouts. As a team, UCF notched 20 kills and hit .457 as a team to win the set 25-19. The Tigers took the second set, 25-21, but not without a fight. Down 12-17, the Knights put the pressure on and tied the set up, 18-18, but was unable to hold on. After going point for point early in the third, the Knights took a commanding 6-0 run and didn't look back to win the set, 25-17. That command carried over to the fourth set, where the Knights led by as much as 10 points. UCF claimed the set and match win 25-18.
McKenna Melville notched 19 kills, hit .357, and four important blocks while Tali Marmen added 13 kills. eight digs and four blocks. Anne-Marie Watson also picked up double-digit kills with 11 and hit .269. Kathryn Wesolich showed up big for UCF after adding seven kills while hitting .385 and recorded five blocks and two aces. Amber Olson recorded a career-high six kills and tied her career-high assists with 44.
NO. 24 SOUTH CAROLINA
UCF then dropped the match against No. 24 South Carolina, 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 28-26). The Gamecocks came out hard to take the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-14. The Knights never backed down and took the third set to extra points, but was unable to hold on, 28-26.
McKenna Melville led both sides of the court with 22 kills while hitting .314. Tali Marmen added five kills, Anne-Marie notched four, and in his first career-start with the Knights, Amari recorded three kills and two blocks. Amber Olson led with 31 assists and one ace and Chloe Scheer grabbed 16 digs.
The Knights will get to see the Gamecocks one more time tomorrow at 7:30 pm.
"That early morning match after a road trip is one that you worry about, but I thought the team went out composed and were ready. That first set I thought we executed really well, hitting .457, but we had to have those 20 kills because they only made two errors. We made to play nearly perfect and that was probably the best set we played all year. The blocking picked up as the match went on. We made some adjustments and buckled down in the third and fourth set and I think it showed. We were trying to serve hard, and we certainly won that battle. McKenna was rock solid and her with Tali they were really slowing things down. We took a step into the right direction; we got a little better today than we were last week."
[On South Carolina]
"We put up the fight, we put up the effort, we just did not put up the execution and we did not put up the pass and serve we needed to beat a team like that. We know we can compete with them and I believe we can come back tomorrow and compete much better with. There are a lot of excuses, but we aren't going to use them. We just have to go out there and play. I am really proud of how we crawled all the way back in the third set. I was proud of the fight and proud of the effort. We just have to execute better."
[On Amari debuts]
"Amari had a great debut, it was great to see him out there and he will be a staple of the offense."
The Knights will face the Gamecocks one last time to close out the Palmetto Showdown tomorrow at 7:30pm in Columbia, SC.
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