In another grueling chess match between the two squads, the #22-ranked UCF Knights volleyball team knocked off Cincinnati in five sets for the season time this season, and now stand on the precipice of a conference title.
The Knights defeated the Bearcats 25-27, 27-25, 16-25, 25-17, 15-11 at The Venue at CFE Arena for their 20th consecutive win, thanks to another sublime performance from McKenna Melville (26 kills) and 15 team blocks on the Bearcats and their star player, Olympic hopeful Jordan Thompson.
Kristina Fisher added 13 more kills for the Knights, including the last one to wrap it:
20 in a row for #22 @UCF_Volleyball!#UCF defeats Cincinnati in 5, picking up a huge win for their RPI and hosting possibilities.— Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon) November 10, 2018
More importantly, the Knights can clinch at least a share of the @American_VBall Championship Sunday vs. ECU. pic.twitter.com/AGMwGPD7G9
Thompson had quite the night herself, racking up 31 kills on an astounding 102 swings, but only managed a .157 hitting percentage thanks to the Knights’ defense.
It wasn’t the record-setting performance of the last meeting between these two squads, but the Knights’ right-side defensive combinations of Kathryn Wesolich, Briana Garcia and Anne-Marie Watson combined for 10 of the Knights’ 15 team blocks, mostly on Thompson.
UCF blew a 21-15 lead in the first set to go down 1-0 in the match, and then Cincinnati turned on the burners in the third to take a 2-1 lead. But in the fourth and fifth, the Knights out-executed the Bearcats, bottling up their offense enough to come out on top.
SOOOOOO much to unpack from our 20th straight win!— UCF Volleyball (@UCF_Volleyball) November 10, 2018
Check out the top plays pic.twitter.com/mAg6ZNjA6X
The Knights, now at 23-3, winners of 20 in a row, 13-0 at home and 14-0 in The American, can now clinch at least a share of the conference title with a victory on Sunday against East Carolina. The Knights are three matches up on Cincinnati in the loss column with four matches left.
Also significant for UCF is their RPI ranking, which stands at #11, and may indeed improve with a win over Cincinnati, whose RPI was 23 at the start of the weekend. If UCF maintains its RPI, the Knights may have a chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in December.
That’s beyond their control for now. Sunday a trophy will be in the house.