WICHITA, Kan. – The UCF volleyball team (10-5, 3-0) rallied past Wichita State (6-6, 0-3) to win in five sets on Friday in Wichita, Kansas with scores of 25-20, 21-25, 21-25, 25-12, 15-12.
"It was one of the best close matches we have ever been in," head coach Todd Dagenais said, "We never stopped fighting or supporting each other. We kept slinging mud with them and that is what we had to do, a mudslinging battle."
McKenna Melville earned a double-double with 23 kills and 19 digs while Anne-Marie Watson grabbed 17 kills while hitting .389. Nerissa Moravec came up big, adding 10 kills with zero errors to hit .435. She also added five blocks on the match. Amber Olson led with a career-high 51 assists.
Melville came out hot and stayed hot to lead the charge from the start with nine kills, hitting .444 in the first set. The Knights held a steady lead through the entire set and led by as much as six points, 15-9. The Shockers tried to hang on, but UCF stayed strong to take the first set in 25-20.
Down 1-3 to start, the Knights used a 4-0 run to take the lead, 5-3. UCF continued to hold the lead, until the Shockers tied things up 18-18. From there, Wichita State closed out the set on a 6-0 run to take the second, 25-21, to tie the match up 1-1.
The third set started as a back-and-forth battle as the teams were tied 11-11. The Shockers went on the run to lead by four at 19-15. Wichita State held UCF to a .174 hitting percentage in the third to walk away with the set, 25-21, to lead 2-1.
Fighting for the fifth set, the Knights took control of the fourth in dominating fashion. After being tied early at 4-4, UCF ran away to lead 19-9. The Knights shut down the Shockers offense to win the fourth set in a quick 25-12 decision to tie the match 2-2.
It all came down to the final few points as the two teams went point-for-point in the fifth. The set was tied 4-4 and 7-7 before the Knights grabbed a two-point lead, 10-8, which was just enough as the Knights took the set in 15-12 to win the match 3-2.
The Knights extend to a six-game winning streak.
[On the turning point]
They had a great mindset heading into the fourth set. They wanted to try to establish dominance right away and be fearless. We jumped on them early and never looked back from there, which I think totally set the momentum up for the fifth set.
[Wichita State] was doing a good job covering Claudia, but they were leaving Nerissa open. They were choosing where they were going to block, and they were leaving her open. She completely took advantage of it.
She certainly contributed on the offensive end, and I was surprised they gave her that much room. She was able to take advantage of it and did a really good job of closing things up for us.
[On biggest takeaway]
The preseason was worth it all, all the tough matches and five setters. All that experience of playing those types of games completely prepared us to play a match literally in the mud. That's what this was and we were just better at it than they were.
The Knights will head a few hours south to face the Tulsa's Golden Hurricane on Sunday, October 3, in Tulsa, Okla.
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