GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – East Carolina wrapped up a tough opening stretch of American Athletic Conference play with a three set (12-25, 15-25, 15-25) loss to UCF Sunday afternoon inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The Knights came into the match having suffered their first league loss Friday in a 3-0 setback at Cincinnati.
The Pirates (13-4, 1-3 AAC) faced a gauntlet during their first four league contests, facing off with 2018 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Cincinnati and UCF as well as 2018 NIVC participants Tulsa and USF.
ECU was unable to find its footing offensively, hitting just .056, while the Knights (10-6, 3-1 AAC) fired at a .375 clip on the strength of 40 kills. UCF also out-dug East Carolina 41-28 and held the upper hand in total blocks (8.0-2.0).
2018 AAC Freshman of the Year McKenna Melville led all players with 16 kills, 11 digs and a .452 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Sydney Kleinman paced the Pirates offensively with seven kills.
The Knights came out in the opening set and put the pressure on ECU at the service line, racing out to a 9-3 advantage. The Pirates later used a timeout down 19-9 but could not cut into UCF’s lead the rest of the way.
East Carolina forced the visitors into an early timeout in the second frame, building a 6-1 cushion. The Knights recovered however, netting 11 of the next 14 points to surge ahead 12-9. UCF out-scored the Pirates by seven the remainder of the set to win it by 10.
The teams battled to a tie at seven in the third before a 3-0 run gave UCF some breathing room. ECU dug down to knot the score at 11, but the Knights created some separation by snagging eight of the next 11 points. UCF eventually completed the sweep, limiting the Pirates to one score in the final seven rallies.
East Carolina will play its next four matches on the road, beginning Oct. 11 at Temple.