Courtesy: American Athletic Conference
American Athletic Conference volleyball teams will begin their November slates on Thursday, as home teams went 11-1 through the final weekend of October. Five teams enter the final month of the regular season on the heels of a weekend sweep.
- UCF climbed up to No. 23 in the AVCA national coaches’ poll, making its second-straight appearance on the list. Four conference teams were featured in this week’s top 50 of the NCAA’s RPI report with the Knights leading the way for a fourth-consecutive week at No. 11. Cincinnati moved up to No. 25, followed by Wichita State at No. 44 and Tulsa at No. 50. Tulane (No. 81) and USF (No. 87) joined them in the top 100.
- After six weeks of conference play, UCF remains unbeaten with an 11-0 conference mark and is riding a 17-match winning streak. Defense has been key for the Knights, who have averaged 11.1 blocks per match during their swing, holding their past 10 opponents to hitting below the .200 line. While its defense has surged, UCF is The American’s leader in kills (14.03) and assists (13.26) per set—both of which rank top 25 in the nation. UCF’s .870 winning percentage is the ninth-best in the country.
- UCF has garnered a weekly volleyball honor for the past four weeks, as freshman McKenna Melville collected back-to-back conference Offensive Player of the Week accolades. The rookie leads The American with 16 double-doubles and ranks second in the league with 4.45 kills and 4.94 points per set. The Knights put their perfect conference slate on the line when they hit the road this week, taking on UConn and Temple.
- Cincinnati sits two matches behind UCF after falling to Tulane in four sets on Sunday. The Green Wave’s win over the Bearcats was their first since 1995, as Tulane is rolling with a seven-match winning streak. Tulane halted one of The American’s most explosive offenses, holding Cincinnati to hitting .160. Tulane ranks No. 10 in the nation, averaging a .152 opponent hitting percentage. The Green Wave holds the fourth-place spot in conference standings with a 7-4 record and will look to keep it going in Texas, facing Houston and SMU.
- For the ninth week in a row, Cincinnati outside and right side hitter Jordan Thompson leads the nation in kills (610) and points (678). She broke four American records this season and currently ranks No. 5 in the NCAA among current players with 1,649 kills and No. 2 with 4.91 career kills per set. Thompson is 34 kills away from setting the conference’s all-time single season record and nine points away from the all-time American single-season points record. Teammate Carly Nolan is only two aces away from setting the all-time conference career record in service aces. Cincinnati ranks No. 4 in the nation in total kills (1,387) and assists (1,311). The Bearcats look to get back on track at home, beginning their November slate against Wichita State and Tulsa.
- Tulsa remains locked in third place, three matches behind UCF with an 8-3 record, after another weekend sweep. The Golden Hurricane defeated Temple and UConn to improve to 10-1 at the Reynolds Center this season. Tulsa has been among the top teams defensively in the conference for the past three seasons and currently ranks No. 16 in the nation averaging 17.74 digs per set. The Golden Hurricane travels to ECU and Cincinnati this weekend.
- USF and Wichita State are in a tie for fifth place, as both teams are coming off weekend sweeps. The Bulls have won three-straight matches and reached a couple milestones last weekend. Redshirt senior Clara Payne recorded 18 blocks through USF’s pair of wins, recording her 400th-career block. Junior transfer Jac’cara Walker‘s 22 kills in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Houston brought her to 304 in a USF uniform this season. Added to the 712 she tallied in her first two collegiate seasons at Marshall, she joins the 1,000 kills club.
- Wichita State won in straight sets twice over the weekend to bounce back from a three-match slide. The Shockers will take on Cincinnati and ECU this weekend. It was a five-set battle in the Shockers’ previous meeting with the Bearcats, as Thompson knocked down a conference-record 44 kills inside Charles Koch Arena. Wichita State outside hitter Tabitha Brown reached a career-high 28 kills. Libero Giorgia Civita is the conference’s leader with 5.72 digs per set.
- For a second-straight Sunday, Memphis wrapped up its weekend action with a five-set win. The Tigers were led by outside hitter Kelsea Bivins who clobbered a career-high 33 kills while hitting .419 in an exciting 3-2 victory over ECU. Her 33 kills are the most by a Tiger since 1995, as 21 of her 33 kills came in the final three sets, including nine in the deciding fifth set. She became the second player in The American this season to reach the 30-kill milestone. The Pirates put up some big numbers too, as setter Shelby Martin became the first player in The American this season to record a triple-double. She had 10 kills, 34 assists and 14 digs.