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Knight Cap: Volleyball’s Win Streak Continues, Men’s Soccer Ends Regular Season

Plus: Johnny Travale podiums in international tournament

UCF Knights Men’s Soccer falls to USF 4-3 in Overtime. Wednesday, 10/27/2021 Photo: Noah Goldberg

The past week of UCF Knights sports saw one team finish off its regular season in less than ideal fashion, another team continues its win streak in conference play, and four individual athletes traveling across the country for tournaments. Plus, we name the Knight of the Week in your latest Knight Cap for Tuesday, November 9.

Men’s Soccer falls to No. 5 Tulsa to end regular season

Despite getting out ahead in the early going, the UCF Men’s Soccer team could not stop Tulsa’s second-half comeback on Friday to win the match, 2-1.

Sophomore forward Lucca Dourado scored his 12th goal of the season (which ranks him in a tie for the most goals this season in Division I) in the 10th minute, giving the Knights the first strike. He was assisted by fifth-year senior utility player Nick Taylor.

The first half would prove to be tame from an offensive perspective. The Knights outshot Tulsa, 4-3, and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Bernardo Brandao was also making some key saves in his first collegiate match.

However, the Tulsa offense kicked it up a notch in the second half, outshooting UCF, 11-4.

Tulsa junior defender Til Zinnhardt scored the first goal of the match for the Golden Hurricane in the 57th minute off of a free kick from freshman forward Tom Protzek, who was credited with the assist.

Not long afterward, in the 60th minute, senior defender Henry Sach scored the game-winning goal off of a penalty kick that clinched the match for the Golden Hurricane.

In a match where UCF was outshot in both shots (14-8) and shots on goal (5-2), Brandao was still able to get three saves in his collegiate debut.

However, one noticeable detail of this match is that both Tulsa scores came on a free-kick and a penalty kick, results of a UCF foul.

Looking into this further reveals just how key fouls were in this match. While the team has committed high foul totals recently, such as 10 against SMU, 13 against Temple, and 12 in its prior tilt with Tulsa, they ended up being negligible because the opposing team committed just as many fouls, if not more.

That was not the case on Friday night. As UCF committed 15 fouls, the most fouls it’s had in a single match all season, Tulsa only committed eight fouls, almost half as many.

In the end, thanks to a second-half offensive surge, taking advantage of being fouled on, and some discipline by the Hurricane that limited their own foul total, Tulsa was able to split the regular season series against UCF.

So, the Knights end the regular season with an 8-7 overall record and a 6-4 record in conference play, enough to earn the No. 2 seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament thanks to Memphis beating SMU that very same Friday night.

Also thanks to that match, UCF will now have face No. 3-seed Memphis in its semifinal match on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Both teams split their regular season matches, with UCF taking the first one in Memphis, 4-1, while Memphis stunned the Knights in Orlando, 3-0.

The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Volleyball continues conference win streak on the road

The UCF Volleyball team reached its 9th consecutive victory this week, though, in the process, it did lose its first set since Oct. 10.

The Cincinnati Bearcats were the first team to win a set against the Knights since Oct. 10 and were also the first team to win two sets against the Knights since its loss to Houston on Oct. 8.

Yet, despite dropping the first two sets (25-22, 25-23), UCF was able to sweep the last three sets to take the victory, 3-2 (25-15, 25-13, 15-11).

On a team level, the story of this match can actually be seen in the number of errors both teams committed. Essentially, the team that made the least mistakes, won the set.

In the first two sets, the Bearcats had one less penalty than the Knights (6-5, 9-8), but in Sets 3 and 4, Cincinnati began giving up more errors while the Knights dramatically decreased theirs (10-3, 9-1). Finally, in the 5th set, both teams each gave up one error, and it ended up coming down to who could get the most kills, which is what UCF did.

Individually, senior outside hitter McKenna Melville led the way once more, leading the team in kills (17) and digs (18). Meanwhile, fifth-year senior right-side hitter Anne-Marie Watson led the team in blocks (8) and had the second-most kills (14). Senior setter Amber Olson would take the second-most digs (13) while also leading the team in assists (43).

It was much smoother sailing for the team against East Carolina, who they swept, 3-0 (25-20, 25-11, 25-22).

Despite the Pirates limiting their errors, UCF was still able to out-kill them in every set (18-14, 18-5, 17-13).

Melville once again led the team in kills (18) and digs (11) and even had two aces. Sophomore libero Chloe Scheer closely trailed behind Melville in digs (10), as did Olson (9). Meanwhile, Watson once again had the second-most digs (15) and redshirt senior middle blocker Nerissa Moravec led the team in blocks (5).

The wins elevate the Knights to 20-6 overall and 13-1 in conference play, maintaining their two-game lead over second-place Houston in the American Athletic Conference standings.

The team returns to The Venue this week to begin a four-game homestand, the final one of the regular season. Memphis faces the team on Thursday at 7 p.m. while SMU will do so on Saturday at noon.

Men’s Tennis Competes on both coasts

While juniors Trey Hilderbrand and Bogdan Pavel traveled to San Diego, California for the ITA Fall Nationals, the rest of the team remained behind in Orlando to host the UCF Invite this weekend.

On the west coast, Hilderbrand defeated Ole Miss junior Nikola Slavic in the first round (6-2, 2-6, 6-0) of the singles draw before falling in the Round of 16 to No. 20-ranked Ohio State graduate student Matej Vocel (6-1, 7-5(4)).

In doubles action, No. 3-ranked duo Hilderbrand and Pavel defeated duos from LSU and Michigan before falling in the quarterfinals to No. 59-ranked duo from Ohio State, sophomore Arthur Fery and senior Alexandre Rotsaert (6-3, 6-3).

Meanwhile, back east, the rest of the team welcomed Alabama, FAU, Florida State, and USF in the UCF Invite. Despite inclement weather canceling Friday’s matches, the doubles duos still managed to play in three matches while the singles players competed twice.

No. 70-ranked junior Lleyton Cronje, redshirt freshman Quinn Snyder, and true freshmen JC Roddick and Cooper White, and redshirt freshman Quinn Snyder all went 2-0 in their singles matches on the weekend. Roddick’s two wins elevate him to 7-2 for the fall.

In doubles action, Cronje teamed up with redshirt junior Bryan Triana to go 3-0 on the weekend. Roddick and White teamed up to do the same. Snyder and senior Kento Yamada teamed up for one match against a duo from FAU, losing 6-2.

This concluded the fall season for the team. It will be a little over two months before a trip to Miami opens their 2022 schedule from Jan. 15-18.

UCF Men’s Golfer Finishes 3rd at The Spirit International Golf Championship

Representing his native Canada, senior Johnny Travale helped his country to a 3rd place finish while also taking 3rd individually in The Spirit International Golf Championship in Trinity, Texas.

Travale’s individual 213 (-3) came just three strokes shy of Texas A&M senior Sam Bennett, who was representing the United States. Meanwhile, Travale and his countryman, Henry Lee, teamed up to score 431 (-1), also two strokes shy of first place. In this case, that team was Sweden.

Senior Luis Carrera was also in the championship, representing his native country, Mexico. He finished in a tie for 24th place individually, with 227 (+11). Meanwhile, he and his countryman, Alejandro Fierro, teamed up to score 466 (+34) to bring home a 17th-place finish for Mexico.

Both Travale and Carrera will be back with UCF for the spring season in 2022, which begins at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, from Feb. 12-13.

Knight of the Week

McKenna Melville, Volleyball (Again)

Get used to this, folks. With the other fall sports rounding down their seasons, there are now fewer and fewer obstacles for Melville to be featured as the Knight of the Week.

By leading the team in both kills and digs in both matches this weekend, she earned her 12th double-double of the season. This means she has now gotten a double-double in 46 percent of her matches this season.

As of Nov. 7, Melville is currently 2nd in Division I in total kills (472) and points (537.0) this season. She is also 5th in the nation in points per pet (5.59) and 7th in kills per set (4.92).

In addition, with her career kill total now sitting at 1,841, Melville has officially passed Miriam Metzcus for the 3rd-most career kills in UCF Volleyball history. She currently sits 91 kills away from 2nd-place Tyra Harper. If Melville consistently got her average number of kills per match (18), she can reach this mark before the end of the regular season.

That’s not all, though. Melville is also making a push on the all-time career digs list. After this weekend, her 1,271 career digs put her in 4th-place on the list. Once again, Metzcus stands in her way in 3rd place, with 1,644 digs.

Considering that Melville and the volleyball team are entering their final homestand, I’m just going to encourage everyone to go witness Melville for themselves. The stats can tell part of the story, but it is a completely different ball game to witness Melville play in The Venue. Melville is a player that only comes along once in a generation, so take the opportunity to watch her play in the flesh while she is still here.