UCF Knights fall to the Gamecocks

The UCF Knights closed out the Palmetto Showdown in a tough battle against No. 24 South Carolina University on Friday, Sept. 3, at the Carolina Volleyball Center. The Knights forced a fourth set, but ultimately fell to the Gamecocks 3-1.

Thursday was the first day of the Palmetto Showdown, where the Knights faced off against the Clemson University Tigers and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

The Knights opened the Showdown against the Tigers and won 3-1. UCF senior outside hitter McKenna Melville achieved 19 kills, while senior outside hitter Tali Marmen contributed an additional 13 kills to the game's total. 

In the second game, the Knights competed with the Gamecocks and were defeated 3-0. Melville and Marmen once again rose to the occasion by executing 27 kills in total.

On Friday, the Knights returned for a rematch with the Gamecocks but suffered another loss of 3-1. In the first set, the Knights and Gamecocks were neck and neck for the majority of the set. However, the Gamecocks took over with a 5-1 run, causing them to win the set 19-25.

The second set was not any different, as the Knights and Gamecocks were exchanging points. Eventually, the Gamecocks took the lead toward the end of the set and won 20-25. Though the third set started off similar to the last two, the Knights managed to battle back at the end of the set by winning 25-21.

Nonetheless, in the final set, the score reverted back to the Gamecocks, placing them in the lead and ultimately winning the game 25-23. Although the Knights were not victorious, Knights Head Coach Todd Dagenais praised the team for its energy and efforts.

"I thought we came out with a lot of energy, and we were unaffected by how we played them last night," Dagenais said in a game recap. "We felt we learned from the video and knew some key areas we could work on to get better on both sides of the net. I thought we executed the game plan pretty well."

The Knights' efforts also didn't go unnoticed by Gamecocks Head Coach Tom Mendoza.

"There was some high-level volleyball for a large majority of the night," Mendoza said in a game recap. "The team that was winning the serve-and-pass battle was just putting its attackers in better situations, and that was reflected by the scores."

The Knights will return home for the UCF Invitational to go up against the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles at 10 a.m., followed by the Florida State University Seminoles at 7:30 p.m., on Sept. 10 at The Venue.

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