The UCF Knights Volleyball team earned its first NCAA Tournament victory in 16 years with a five-set victory over the Florida State Seminoles in the first round at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville.
UCF won the first before dropping sets two and three, but came back with a vengeance to force a fifth and deciding set, and eventually clinched it 15-8 in the final frame:
The Knights finish it off in style in the fifth set, grinding out a pair of tough points to clinch the win.#NCAAVB | @UCF_Volleyball pic.twitter.com/64778cOGjb— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 6, 2019
Another angle of our final point tonight. We could watch this all night #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/cZ4Va5TrUz— UCF Volleyball (@UCF_Volleyball) December 6, 2019
McKenna Melville led the way for UCF with 20 kills and 27 digs. Her 90 swings was critical in keeping Florida State’s front line, who are second in the nation in blocks per set, at bay, allowing right sides Kristina Fisher (19 kills), Anne-Marie Watson (12) and Alli Sabol (11) to punish FSU’s back line.
Defensively, Makenzie Kuchmaner added another 27 digs of her own and was all over the place doing things like this:
Makenzie Kuchmaner is out here hustling! ♀️ #NCAAVB | @UCF_Volleyball pic.twitter.com/Mm7xV4OrUZ— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 5, 2019
Neither team hit particularly well (UCF was .168 to FSU’s .132), which was to be expected in a defensive struggle like this one, filled with long rallies. But UCF’s .288 clip over the final two sets proved to be the difference.
It was a night full of milestones:
YEAH BABY!!!— Jeff Sharon (@Jeff_Sharon) December 6, 2019
✅ First win over FSU since the 1980s
✅ First @NCAAVolleyball win since 2003
✅ First NCAA win in the @ucfvbtodd Era
✅ Todd Dagenais also becomes @UCF_Volleyball’s all-time winningest head coach with 237 victories
Most of all: SURVIVE AND ADVANCE! #NCAAVB #UCF https://t.co/0pEKdTLLcM
With that win, Todd Dagenais becomes the winningest head coach in UCF Volleyball history with 237 wins.— UCF Volleyball (@UCF_Volleyball) December 6, 2019
Congrats, coach. #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/sAJu4vYY50
The win was also UCF’s first-ever win over an in-state opponent in the NCAA Tournament.
One more thing:
Congrats to Anne-Marie Watson who now holds the single-season record for most block assists in a season (151) ‼ #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/FOukOkTpF7— UCF Volleyball (@UCF_Volleyball) December 6, 2019
The Knights move on to the second round to play the #10 national seed and host Florida Gators, who destroyed Alabama State (as expected) in the opening round.
The Knights have never beaten Florida in the NCAA era, including having their season ended in Gainesville in the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and 2003.
First serve is set for 7 p.m. ET on Friday, December 6th, and it will be televised on WatchESPN.