Courtesy: American Athletic Conference
With three weeks left in the regular-season race, UCF remains atop the American Athletic Conference standings with a 13-0 conference record, as another weekend sweep could give the Knights a portion of the conference title. Along with UCF, Cincinnati (11-2), Tulane (9-4) and Tulsa (9-4) are still in contention for the 2018 league crown. For the second time this season, the top of the league will clash when Cincinnati travels to Orlando on Friday. The Bearcats sit two matches behind UCF in second place.
- The American boasts four top-50 RPI programs with UCF leading the way at No. 11. Cincinnati follows at No. 23, while Wichita State is listed at No. 45 and Tulsa at No. 47. Tulane (No. 17) and USF (No. 99) join them in the top 100 of the latest NCAA RPI report. UCF continues to climb up the national rankings, moving up to No. 22 in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coaches’ Poll.
- The Knights stand at 22-3 overall and haven’t lost since September 2, and are riding a 19-match winning streak. UCF brought its streak into November with wins over UConn and Temple last week. The Knights lead The American in kills and assists per set, as their defense has also shined throughout their swing. UCF has held opponents to hitting below .200, while averaging 11.5 blocks per match over its 19-match winning streak. Freshman McKenna Melville is the conference’s leader with 18 double-doubles. UCF defeated Cincinnati on the road in October to hand the Bearcats their first conference loss of the season. The Knights are 12-0 at home this season.
- Cincinnati is 21-6 overall this year and won its first six sets, sweeping two opponents, in the opening weekend inside the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena. The Bearcats won in straight sets against 2017 volleyball champion Wichita State—a match that went to five sets earlier in October—to sweep the series against the Shockers on the year. They carried the momentum into Sunday, winning in three frames against third-place Tulsa. The nation’s leader in kills and points, outside and right side hitter Jordan Thompson, continued her historic season inside the walls of the Bearcats’ new home. Thompson set two single-season American Athletic Conference records in both points and kills. She has an impressive 725.5 points and 660 kills to lead all hitters across the country this year, becoming the most electric hitter in conference history. With her two single-season marks set this weekend, she has set seven conference records in 2018.
- Tulane owns a nine-match winning streak and joined Cincinnati in sweeping a pair of opponents over the weekend. The Green Wave swept the league’s Texas duo, moving into third place with Tulsa. Tulane has held its foes to managing just a .140 hitting percentage over the past nine matches and has swept 13 opponents this year. The Green Wave ranks No. 7 in the nation after holding teams to averaging a .150 hitting percentage. Their league-high 262.5 blocks ranks No. 14 in the country. Tulane returns to Avron B. Fogelman Arena this weekend and will welcome Temple and UConn to the gym, where it holds an 11-2 record at home this season.
- UConn, Houston and Wichita State each ended their weekend action on a high note. The Huskies completed a season series sweep of USF at home on Saturday. After dropping the second set, the Huskies won-out the last two by two points in each frame to complete a 3-1 victory. Three Huskies reached double-figure kills, led by freshman Caylee Parker who knocked down a double-double of 17 kills and 16 digs. Senior libero Elizabeth Kline reached the 1,000 digs milestone and earned a spot on the league’s weekly Honor Roll list alongside teammate Iman McGary. UConn will look to keep it going at Memphis and Tulane this weekend.
- Houston snapped a three-match setback with a 3-1 win over Memphis last Sunday to earn its second conference victory of the season. Silvia Pertens had a match-high 14 kills on a .393 attacking clip, while Megan Duncan chipped in with four service aces. The Cougars are on the road this weekend, heading to Wichita State and Tulsa.
- In addition to hosting Houston, Wichita State will welcome SMU to Charles Koch Arena on Sunday for an American Digital Network broadcast. The Shockers are coming off a four-set win at ECU where they compiled a season-high 11 blocks with three players reaching double-digit kills. Wichita State looks for vengeance, as the conference’s two Texas teams each defeated the Shockers on the road in October in a pair of five-set thrillers.