Knights Best Bearcats in Comeback Thriller, 3-2

CINCINNATI, Ohio. – The UCF volleyball team (19-6, 12-1) bests Cincinnati (13-8, 8-5) in a comeback five-set thriller on Friday night in Cincinnati, Ohio with scores of 22-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-13, 15-11.
"If you want to be a champion, you have to win games like this," head coach Todd Dagenais said, "Give credit to the team because they really showed their true grit, their true determination and their true heart today."
After a slow start in the first two sets, the Knights heated up to rally back and win the last three as two Knights recorded double-doubles.
McKenna Melville earned her 11th double-double of the season with 17 kills and 18 digs while Amber Olson recorded her eighth double-double with 43 assists and 13 digs.
Anne-Marie Watson heated up with 14 kills, hitting .440 and eight blocks as Tali Marmen also came up big with 11 kills and six block solos. Claudia Dillon notched 10 kills to hit .562 and had four big aces.
The Bearcats came out strong on their home court during homecoming in the first set as they led 8-4. Cincinnati continued to hold a two- point lead until the Knights fought back to tie at 17-17. But the Bearcats clawed ahead to take the first set, 25-22, to give UCF it's first set loss since October 10.
The two teams traded points in the second set and were tied multiple of times throughout. Amber Olson found the opening to grab back-to-back kills to take the lead 10-9. The Knights then held a slight lead until the Bearcats tied it back up, 18-18. UCF fought back with a big 4-0 run to lead 23-22 but Cincinnati took back control to win the second set, 25-23, to lead 2-0 heading into the third set.
UCF was down 4-6 early in the third, but from there on, the Knights found their rhythm and took control after their 4-0 run to lead 8-6. Claudia Dillon was dangerous behind the service line with back-to-back aces to pick up a six-point lead, 19-14, which set up a huge run for the Knights. UCF took the third set by 10 points to force the fourth, 25-15.
The Knights completely shifted the momentum of the match to dominate the fourth right from the start, leading 6-1. UCF quickly earned a 17-9 lead as the offense heated up and charged ahead. The Knights closed out the fourth with a score of 25-13 to force the fifth set.
UCF was able to keep their momentum to lead 5-2 in the fifth. Cincinnati held within a few points, 13-11, but the Knights were too much for the Bearcats as they took the fifth in 15-11 to win the match.
UCF keeps its winning streak alive and extends it to eight straight.
[On Cincinnati]
I thought Cincinnati was fearless. They put us in a ton of tough predicaments, and I really respect how they went out and they played this big match. It was an opportunity for them to stay in the hunt for the championship. And the environment was absolutely obnoxious. Their fans, the band, and the cheerleaders were excellent, and the students were loud. It was a great environment to play, but a very hard environment to concentrate.
[On momentum shift]
Two things changed: I think we got the right line up and then everything else was just to stay calm and take it one at a time. We know we can do this three-straight, we've done it before, so let's start right now with a new match and I never thought from that point on that we were going to lose.
[On Tali Marmen]
One thing that stands out to me is Tali had an amazing match. She started off pretty low, but she had six block solos on their All-American caliber right side and it was huge. She came up big today with crucial kills, crucial blocks and she was the unsung hero of this match.
[On McKenna Melville]
We weren't handling the ball well, so the quality of McKenna's swing was not very good. She didn't get a lot on system. McKenna hit all the garbage, she had to take what was left over and the other players stepped up and did their job. She did a great job in the back row and a great job passing. She also did an unbelievable job as a captain and helping keep everybody together.
[On Amber Olson]
Amber set the best match of the year for sure, maybe the best match of her career. It was just in her decision making, she was so smart in how she decided where to go with the ball and she picked the open person, and she found the right person. She made herself an offensive weapon with six kills. They didn't have an answer for that.
UCF will make its way over to Greenville, North Carolina on Sunday, November 7, to take on East Carolina at 12:00 p.m. ET.
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