UCF Falls to Houston in Five-Set Heartbreaker

ORLANDO, Fla. – The UCF volleyball team (11-6, 4-1) fell to Houston (14-3, 4-1) in a five-set heartbreaker in The Venue on Friday night with scores of 25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 25-22, 12-15.
"It's going to be a good learning lesson for us," head coach Todd Dagenais said, "I'm not disappointed in the way we played. We hit and blocked well enough to win. Heading into the fifth set, I thought we had an advantage, so it was a tough way to lose. We are not going to hang our heads; we are going to do our best to learn from it."
McKenna Melville and Amber Olson both earned double-doubles as Melville grabbed 16 kills and 20 digs while Olson had 34 assists and 17 digs.
Anne-Marie Watson notched 13 kills to hit .346 and added five blocks while Nerissa also picked up five blocks. Claudia Dillon had double-digit kills at 10, hitting .318.
UCF and Houston started back and forth early in the first as the teams were tied 7-7, but the Knights went on a 5-0 run to lead 14-9. From there, UCF took control with the help from Watson who went five for five on kills. The Knights took the first set in 25-18.
The second set started the just same, tied 9-9, before the Knights pulled away with a four-point lead, 15-11. The Cougars were not going down without a fight as they tied the set back up at 23. Houston closed out on top, taking the second, 25-23, to tie the match 1-1.
Set three was off to another battle, but the Knight's errors and the aggressive Cougar offensive led Houston to a 21-13 advantage. UCF charged back to come within two, 22-20, but was unable to hold on as Houston rounded out the third with three kills to win the set, 25-20.
Though Houston led 2-1, the Knights did not back down in a thrilling fourth set to force the fifth. Katelyn Grimes grabbed two important aces for a tied set, 14-14, before the Knights used three big blocks, 18-15. The Cougars came within one, 21-20, but the Knights finished strong to win 25-22.
Houston got out to a 7-3 lead to start the fifth, but UCF rallied back to tie the set, 9-9. But the Knights ultimately fell, 15-12, as the Cougars took the match.
This is the first loss to Houston since 2017.
[On rebounding from loss]
Good news is we don't have much time. We get back to work tomorrow morning and we will work on the things we need to work on. It's a fresh day for those who struggled, and they get another chance to prove their confidence. We are not going to sit on this very long. We take each match individually so at midnight this match flushes.
[On how team responds]
This team will stay together, will fight for each other, and have that winner's mentality. When they come out and show that on Sunday, I think it will prove to everybody that one loss out of 20 matches does not make a season.
The Knights stay home to face Tulane on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. from The Venue. Sunday's match will be the "Dig Pink" game to honor Breast Cancer Awareness month. Fans are invited to wear pink to the game.
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