Knights Hit The Road For Beginning of Conference Play

ORLANDO – After going undefeated in non-conference play for the first time in program history, the UCF volleyball team begins American Athletic Conference play this weekend, traveling to Memphis on Friday, before ending the road swing at SMU on Sunday. 
Friday's match starts at 7 p.m. ET and Sunday's begins at 2 p.m. ET. Both will be streamed live on ESPN+.
UCF has gone undefeated in non-conference play for the first time in program history, winning all eight matches and dropping just seven sets. Following its upset of No. 23 Kansas and an overall dominant performance in the Jayhawk Classic Tournament this past weekend, the Black and Gold now set their sights on winning their fifth conference title in a row. 
McKenna Melville has been a staple in the four conference titles thus far and this past Sunday in the Knights sweep of Lipscomb, she broke the school record in kills, passing Renata Menchikova's 2,151 tally that stood for 25 years. Melville now sits at 2,156 kills in her career, averaging 5.35 kills per set this season.
UCF ranks 11th in the nation with 14.13 kills per set. Two key transfers, Kari Zumach (2.54 k/s) and Abby Hansen (2.03 k/s) have both had career-best starts and now compliment Melville in giving the Knights one of the best attacking trios in the country.
With 343 assists, Amber Olson is fifth nationally with 11.06 assists per set and is on pace to set a career best for a single season, besting her mark from last year when she recorded 1,243 assists in 125 sets. 
The Tigers welcome the Knights to Memphis on a six-game winning streak, having swept all three opponents in the Bluff City Showdown this past weekend. Before that, they dropped just one set the weekend before in the Beale Street Challenge. Now at 10-3, Memphis enters conference play with its best record since 2019.
UCF leads the all-time series 22-11 and has won eight in a row against the Tigers, the longest streak for either team. The Knights have not dropped a set in their last five matchups against the Tigers.
The Mustangs begin conference play against USF on Friday, before welcoming the Knights to Dallas on Sunday. SMU finished non-conference play with a 7-5 record, winning two of three in last weekend's Red Raider Classic. 
SMU is one of only two conference opponents (Tulsa) that lead the Knights in the all-time series. Though UCF is undefeated in the last six matchups, sweeping the Mustangs in their previous three meetings, SMU leads the all-time series, 15-11.
On Memphis:
"You're looking at team that's 13-2 and I think they are a 13-2 team. They are athletic, very dynamic, and very versatile. They run a lot of different looks at you and they're consistent, they know who they are, and they know how they want to do it. From our end we are going to have to find ways to disrupt what they are comfortable with, rather that be through our offense, through our serving or how we play defense against them, we're going to have to find something in each rotation to try to hold them down a little bit. They are certainly confident in who they are, you can see it in the way they run things with confidence, a little bit of swagger and they know that they have been disrespected in the conference rating polls and they are about to go out and prove to everybody that they were wrong. It's the perfect storm where you have a team that's got all the tools to do it and maybe a little bit of experience, but at some point they will have enough experience to do everything they want to do and right now they are already doing enough to be able to win a lot."
"That Sunday road game, we always call it championship Sunday because you win championships every Sunday. SMU is back, new coach, very experienced. They brought in a big time national team level right side with them from Baylor who graduated and she's a handful, she can be one of the best players in the league right now. We're going to have to find ways to neutralize her while keeping everybody else under wraps as well. They handle the ball well, they pass well, they can run their offense and there is a tenacity on defense and they're blocking over two plus attacks a game. It makes them a very dangerous team, especially on the Sunday of a road trip."
On what he's hoping to learn from the team in the beginning of conference play:

"I think we learned what we needed to learn last week about the team being on the road. It's a business trip, we go out and we handle our business, we prepare the right way and travel the right way, we execute the right way. All the little things right down to who has what responsibilities and how we go about our business in the airport and fly and land, how we practice and watch film, that's something that gets rehearsed and I thought we did it very well last week and we were able to come out with three big wins because of it. Our ability to just fall within a system of guidelines on the road has allowed us to go onto the floor feeling comfortable and even when we got pushed, we were able to hold in there. A lot of times when you go on the road it's a lot of extraneous stuff that puts you behind the eight ball a little bit because you just feel like you're never in sync with anything. We have a very specific way in which we do our travel and that puts us in the best spot to get comfortable as quickly as possible."