UCF Falls to South Carolina in Four

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The UCF volleyball team (2-4) closed out the Palmetto Showdown in a hard-fought battle against No. 24 South Carolina (5-1) on Friday night in the Carolina Volleyball Center. The Knights forced a fourth set, but fell to the Gamecocks in four sets, 3-1 (19-25, 20-25, 25-21, 23-25).
"I thought we came out with a lot of energy, and we were unaffected by how we played them last night," head coach Todd Dagenais, "We felt we learned from video and knew some key areas we could work on to get better on both sides of the net. I thought we executed the game plan pretty well. When you look at the stats, it was statistically a tie. It just comes down to individual small things at critical times. They did that and deserved to win the match as a result. But I thought we did some things really well."
McKenna Melville had an unbelievable weekend and closed it out leading both sides of the court with 20 kills, hitting .275, had 17 digs and added two blocks.
The Knights battled right from the start, going point for point through the first set, but the Gamecocks then used a 5-1 run to take the set. Set two started off the same as the two teams battled back and forth, but again the Gamecocks were able to pull away after a 4-0 run.
The third set was a different story. After going back and forth in the first half of the set, it was the Knights who took a 5-0 run and walked away to win the set, 25-21. UCF dominated as a team with 19 kills and hitting .333 in the set.
UCF fought had to force the fifth set after leading 20-17 in the fourth, but South Carolina used a 4-0 run to take back the lead. The last five points was a back-and-forth battle, but the Gamecocks came out on top, 25-23.
Anne-Marie Watson notched eight big kills to hit an efficient .316 while Tali Marmen added seven kills on the match. Claudia Dillon led with five blocks and six kills and Amari Williams tabbed four blocks and six kills. Amber Olson also contributed big numbers with 35 assists and four blocks.
Todd's Thoughts
[On the matchups this season]
I think that schedule could be the toughest schedule a UCF volleyball team has ever had in eight days. We had six matches, eight days, and four out of the six teams played were ranked. We are coming out of it knowing a lot more about ourselves and we know where the bar is set.  
[On the resilience to come back and to fight]
We continue to show resilience and continue to show that we are not giving up, but we need to show more mental toughness that we are going to execute the play when it matters the most. Sometimes I think there is doubt. That is something we can work on with repetition and practice and that builds the confidence.
The Knights return home next weekend for the UCF Invitational Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 9-11, from The Venue. UCF will first see the likes of FGCU on Friday at 10:00am followed by an evening matchup against Florida State at 7:30pm that same day. The Knights will then go up against Georgia on Saturday at 3:00pm.
Stay tuned to UCF Volleyball on Facebook (/UCFVolleyball), Twitter (@UCF_Volleyball) and Instagram (@UCF.Volleyball) for the latest on the UCF volleyball team.

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