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Knight Cap: Volleyball wins out west; Women’s Soccer ends conference losing streak

Plus: Cross Country hosts its home race

McKenna Melville Volleyball Photo Courtesy: UCF Athletics

The past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team begin to reverse their negative conference fortunes, one team have their winning momentum in-conference halted, and another team travel west of the Mississippi River for a pair of conference wins. Plus, we name the Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Monday, October 4.

Volleyball wins two out west

The UCF Volleyball team began its road trip to two of The American’s western-most members on Friday in Wichita, Kansas, where they won, 3-2, against the Shockers.

The Knights (11-5, 4-0 AAC) started the match strong, winning the first set (25-20). but they would have their backs against the wall after Witchita State (7-6, 1-3 AAC) took sets two and three (25-21, 25-21). However, UCF would come back to take sets four and five (25-12, 15-12) thanks to a combined 13 Shocker errors, compared to the Knights’ two.

Senior outside hitter McKenna Melville led the way in both kills (23) and digs (19). Fifth-year senior right-side hitter Anne-Marie Watson trailed only Melville in kills, with 17, while freshman utility player Katelyn Grimes trailed only Melville in digs, with 13, a new career-high. Redshirt senior Nerissa Moravec led in blocks, with five, followed by Watson, with three.

Grimes was not the only player to set a new career-high. Senior setter Amber Olson made a career-high 51 assists in this match, putting her one assist away from a career milestone that would have to wait until a couple of days later.

On Sunday, the Knights traveled a couple of hours south of Wichita to Tulsa, where they beat the Golden Hurricane, 3-1.

Despite a 29-27 win in the second set by Tulsa (7-6, 2-2 AAC), UCF won sets one, three, and four by at least six points.

It did not take long for Olson to reach and surpass the 2,000 career assists milestone, becoming only the ninth player in program history to do so. She sits 26 assists away from the mark her sister, Erin, set in her UCF career from 2017-2019.

Melville once again led in kills, with 19, followed by freshman outside hitter Heidi Bonde, with a career-high 16. Melville also finished with 19 digs for the second match in a row, only trailing sophomore libero Chloe Scheer, who had 21. Moravec once again led the team in blocks, with four, followed by Watson and junior middle blocker Claudia Dillon, who both had three.

The team returns home this week, hosting Houston in a Friday evening match at 7 p.m. and Tulane on Sunday at 1 p.m. in The Venue.

Women’s Soccer draws with SMU, ends conference losing streak

While the UCF Women’s Soccer team avoids a longer conference losing streak, the conference winless streak persists after a 1-1 draw on the road against SMU.

The team came into the match ranked 28th in RPI. After losses against now 40th-ranked Memphis and 94th ranked Houston, going up against a 13th-ranked SMU (ranked #14 in United Soccer Coaches Poll) on the road proved another major challenge for the Knights on both sides of the ball.

The first half of the match went scoreless, with UCF (5-4-1, 0-2-1 AAC) only getting two shots off while SMU (7-1-1, 1-0-1 AAC) had six.

However, not long into the second half, the Mustangs struck first with an unassisted goal in the 53rd minute by freshman defender Elisabeth Tse.

It would not be until the 81st minute that the Knights would equalize. Thanks to assists from redshirt junior midfielder Anna Henderson and fifth-year senior midfielder Madison Murnin, junior forward Ellie Moreno scored her second goal of the season to equalize the match, 1-1.

Despite the draw, the same trend seen in the Memphis and Houston matches continues. UCF finished the match with nine shots, there of them on goal. Meanwhile, SMU had more than double that, finishing with 23 shots and 12 of them on goal.

The team returns home to host USF in a 6 p.m. match on Thursday, still seeking its first conference win. The Bulls rank just behind the Knights in RPI (32nd). Plus, both sides of the War on I-4 have allowed the same number of goals this season (10).

“We still got big things ahead of us,” head coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. “I’m very proud of the team and we’re going to keep believing.”

Cross Country hosts, and wins, UCF Invite

The UCF Cross Country team got its first team victory of the season in its home meet, the UCF Invite, Friday.

The team won the 2.9-mile race with 48 points, with Florida coming in 2nd with 60 points, a flip of the script from last month’s Mountain Dew Invitational.

Individually, freshman Valerie Lastra and Kambry Smith led the way as the only two Knights to finish in the Top 10. They finished 5th and 6th place with 16:57.1 and 16:57.9 respectively. For Lastra, it was her second consecutive 5th-place finish this season. For Smith, it’s her third Top 15 finish in as many events this season.

A larger group of UCF runners finished just under 30 seconds later: freshman Lillian Holtery took 11th at 17:21.0, junior Charlotte Crook finished 12th at 17:25.6, sophomore Mariana Rodriguez ended up in 14th place with a 17:33.4 time, freshman Alexandra Del Re finished in 15th at 17:33.7, and Isabella Babilonia finished with a 17:36.5 time.

The team’s next race takes them to Tallahassee, where it will compete in the FSU Pre-Nationals on Oct. 15 at 8:30 a.m. The race will be on the same course that will also play host to the NCAA Cross Country National Championships on Nov. 20.

Men’s Soccer stunned by Memphis

The UCF Men’s Soccer team was shut out by Memphis Sunday, 3-0.

The loss at home comes less than a month after the Knights (5-4, 3-1 AAC) went on the road and beat Memphis (3-6-1, 2-2 AAC), 4-1.

Despite having the second-highest scoring offense in Division I and getting off 16 shots, seven of them on goal, nothing could get past Memphis’ freshman goalkeeper Collin Welsh. It was an improvement from the last time the Tigers and Knights squared off, where he got only three saves and gave up two goals in just 45 minutes.

Welsh’s seven saves is a career-high for him and increases his season total to 30, which leads The American.

While the Tigers’ defense was able to shut down the Knights’ offensive, their offense was making the most of its opportunities. All but one of Memphis’ six shots were on goal.

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Tyler Lavigne got two saves but allowed three goals, the most he’s allowed in a match all season.

Memphis senior defender Artur de Luca got his first two goals of the season. He scored the first one in the 36th minute with assists from senior forward Maxi Galizzi and freshman midfielder Eric Primo. Galizzi would also provide the assist for de Luca’s second goal in the 59th minute.

The nail in the coffin for UCF came in the 85th minute when sophomore forward Gabriel Christensen scored a goal with assists from Galizzi and sophomore midfielder Toby McCallum to give the match its 3-0 final score.

It will be a challenge for the Knights to rebound since they host Tulsa for a 6 p.m. match on Sunday. The #7-ranked Golden Hurricane also has a Top 10 scoring offense, plus their goalkeeper, Lopez, has the second-most saves in The American this season.

The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Women’s Golf Finishes Top 3; ties program record

The UCF Women’s Golf team got its second Top 5 of the season thanks to a tie for 3rd place team finish at the Bryan National Collegiate in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Knights finished the tournament at +8 (872), 26 strokes behind 1st-place Wake Forest A-squad, and tied with Old Dominion and Campbell.

Individually, two UCF players finished inside the Top 20: freshman Zoe Allaux finished her tournament in tied for 10th place at -1 (215) and junior Tunrada Piddon finished in 16thplace with a +2 (218) tournament. This is the second consecutive Top 20 individual finish for both of these women.

Allaux also shot the lowest round of the tournament, shooting a 65 (-7) in Round 2. The mark ties the lowest 18-hole score in program history. The others that have achieved a 65-stroke round are Maria Balcazar in 2017, Kaeli Jones in spring 2018, and Elizabeth Moon in fall 2018.

Just outside the Top 20, in a tie for 21st, sophomores Jess Baker and Camille Banzet both finished their tournaments at +5 (221).

As for the rest of the team, senior Alyssa Lamoureux finished in a tie for 43rd with a +13 (229) tournament, and graduate student Ana Laura Collado ended her tournament in a tie for 52nd with a +19 (235) tournament.

As of the publishing of this article, the team is currently in Virginia Beach, Virginia playing in the Evie Odom Invitational. The tournament’s final round will be played on Tuesday. Therefore, the results of this tournament will be covered in next week’s Knight Cap.

Women’s Tennis Competes In Bedford Cup

The UCF Women’s Tennis team traveled west down I-4 to Tampa to compete in the Bedford Cup this weekend.

Five Knights competed in the tournament, with four of them forming two duos to compete in the doubles draw.

In said doubles draw, No. 3-seed duo redshirt junior Nandini Sharma and junior Marie Mattel made it to the semifinals before falling to the No. 1-seed Florida duo, freshman Bente Spee and junior Emma Shelton (6-1). Meanwhile, No. 2-seed duo Jaleesa Leslie and Nadja Bay Christians, both sophomores, teamed up to go 0-2 in the tournament.

Leslie would then team up with Sharma for the team’s last doubles match of the tournament, beating Florida’s Emily De Oliviera and Alicia Dudeney, 6-3.

No. 4-seed Sharma made it to the semifinals in the singles draw as well but fell to No. 2-seed Dudeney (6-4, 6-1). Dudeney also defeated Mattel in the quarterfinals (6-1, 6-1). Both Sharma and Mattel finished the tournament 2-2.

Leslie also had her title hopes ended in the quarterfinals, falling to Spee (6-1, 6-0). She finished the tournament 2-3.

While Christians, who is making her season debut, had her title hopes ended in the Round of 16 at the hands of FIU senior Kamila Umarova (6-0, 6-3), both of her consolation matches ended in a walkover. First, it was an illness to Florida Gulf Coast junior Ida Ferding that gave Christians a win, but then an injury to Christians herself lost her the second. So, including walkovers, Christians finished her tournament 2-2.

Finally, redshirt freshman Anique Kattenberg went 3-2 in the tournament’s Flight B in her collegiate debut.

Two Knights that were absent from the Bedford Cup, redshirt senior Valeriya Zeleva and senior Evgeniya Levashova, are currently competing in the ITA All-American Championship in Charleston, South Carolina, which runs until Sunday.

As of this article’s publishing, the No. 80-ranked Levashova has fallen in her first qualifying draw match to No. 27-ranked Ole Miss senior Sabina Machalova (7-6(2), 6-1).

Meanwhile, the No. 20-ranked Zaleva already has a spot in the main draw, so her first match will be at a yet-to-be-determined time on Wednesday.

Knight of the Week

Caroline DeLisle, Women’s Soccer

The redshirt junior goalkeeper played all 110 minutes in the UCF women’s soccer team’s 1-1 draw with SMU.

In the team’s previous two conference matches, she faced five shots on goal against Houston and nine against Memphis. This week, against SMU, DeLisle had to face 12 shots on goal.

Delisle finished the match with 11 saves, the same number of saves that she had in the Houston and Memphis matches combined. Her 11 saves and the 23 shots she faced are also new career-highs.

She is now 2nd place in The American for the most saves so far this season, one behind Temple’s Kamryn Stablein.

Additionally, with this performance, DeLisle became the first UCF female soccer player to get 11 or more saves in a single match since 2007. It was Jennifer Manis that was responsible for it, getting 12 saves in a match with Minnesota on Aug. 31, 2007.