UCF wins its eighth straight game after 3-0 against USF (use)

UCF senior outside hitter Kristina Fisher (15) makes a dink spike to score a point during the third set. UCF defeated USF 3-0 at The Venue on Friday night.

UCF volleyball defeated the USF Bulls in the War on I-4 Friday at the Venue, extending their winning streak to eight games. 

“I mean, a War on I-4 win always feels great,” senior setter Erin Olson said with a beaming smile.

The Knights (17-6, 10-1 AAC) beat the Bulls (7-18, 1-10 AAC) in three straight sets (25-14, 26-24, 25-14).

“I thought we really came out steady and I think this is one of those matches where if you’re not careful, and bring too much emotion into it, it clouds you from being able to execute,” UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. “I thought we didn’t do that, I thought we just came in very business like, executed our skills and I thought we jumped on them pretty early.”

The game was tied 12 times and there were 4 lead changes in a hotly contested second set that was ultimately decided by only two points.

“We were a little shaky in the second set but our whole team pulled through,” sophomore outside hitter McKenna Melville said. “Everyone pulled through for each other, which I think was huge. So one point doesn’t really make a big deal in my books but the other points leading up to that, with our team worked well together.”

Dagenais said he was proud of his team’s resilience and ability to pull through with a win in the second set. 

“We were two down I think at one point late and to be able to come back and win it–extended time was pretty special,” Dagenais said.

The War on I-4 victory was business as usual for UCF. The Black and Gold came into the match with a 13 game win streak against USF, having never lost a game to their rivals since joining the American Athletic Conference in 2013.

UCF's last loss to USF was on Aug. 25, 2012, when they fell to the Bulls 2-3  in an away game.

“We really treat it just like any other game, we go through the same routine,” Dagenais said. “We don’t talk about ‘hey this is a special game’. We handle it the same way we do the NCAA tournament. It’s just another game, it's just the next one on the list."

Before tonight, UCF has outscored their opponents 30-6 during their winning streak. They're ranked No. 27 in the NCAA RPI rankings. And have two wins against teams in the top 27 and four wins against teams in the top 50.

The Knights were firing on all cylinders offensively and had a total of eight aces. Sophomore setter Amber Olson led the charge with five, while Melville and redshirt junior Lache Harper combined for three. 

Dagenais said he felt his team did a great job of floating the ball during serves which made it difficult for the opposition to get a clean pass.

“This week we’ve been focusing on trying to serve a lot flatter,” Dagenais said. “I thought we’ve been getting into [serves] a little bit too high, a little bit too easy, what we call lollipop serves. We really been trying to serve low and flat and I thought the players did a great job of serving the ball flat and once it was flat it was really moving."

UCF also had 49 kills to USF’s 29. Melville had a team-high of 15 kills and senior outside hitter Kristina Fisher added in 12. Senior right side hitter Anne-Marie Watson also joined the leaders with 10 kills. 

The Olson sisters contributed heavily on the passing end, finishing with a combined 41 assists. 

With the win, UCF is tied for first in the AAC with the University of Cincinnati (19-5, 10-1 AAC).

“I’m glad to see us winning these games again,” Dagenais said. “Early in the season we were winning those types of games and then we went through a stretch where we were losing those games."

The Knights will look to continue their charge when they face the SMU Mustangs (14-6, 7-3 AAC) Sunday at 2 p.m. in Moody Coliseum. 

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