Last year was a tough one for UCF Volleyball, but with injuries hopefully behind them, coach Todd Dagenais’ team stands poised to contend once again for the AAC Championship.
This Year’s Outlook
The Knights were picked fourth in the AAC preseason coaches’ poll, behind Cincinnati, Temple and conference champs SMU.
15-17, 9-11 AAC. It was an injury-filled year for UCF, coming off winning the league in 2014, and landing at seventh in the league. Kia Bright’s season-ending knee injury was particularly devastating, as the Knights were 6-6 heading into conference play, and had already suffered a few ken injuries after a 5-1 start. After a five-match win streak in conference, UCF dropped six of the last seven in a brutal stretch toward the end.
Todd Dagenais. Now entering his ninth year at UCF, Dagenais has firmly placed his stamp on the program, from the Knights’ academic performance to the environment at the Venue. Dagenais coached the U.S. College National Team this year over the summer, continuing his work in the Team USA system. Dagenais also hired two new assistants that are former Division I head coaches: Jenny Maurer from Bradley and Isaac Raphael from Bethune-Cookman.
Top Returning Players
#5 Kia Bright – Jr. Outside Hitter (Starke, Florida)
Bright was a revelation in 2014, after transferring from Auburn, earning all-conference, all-region and honorable mention all-America honors. She was on pace for an even more ridiculous season when she injured her knee in the home match against UConn. Bright is back this year, and reports are she looks as good as she was before the injury.
#1 Jale Hervey – Sr. Outside Hitter (Huntsville, Alabama)
With Bright’s injury, Jale Hervey had to step in and fill the void, and did so admirably in 2015, leading the team in kills with 386, which was actually down from 427 the previous season. But the injury to Kia bright meant other teams could gang up on her at the net, resulting in the decrease in kills and hit percentage (from .275 to .239). If Bright stays healthy, and if Miranda Watkins continues getting comfortable in the setter role, Hervey should have plenty of clean swings in 2016.
Shelby Foyer elected to hang it up after her junior year, joining seniors Abbie Fleener and Dana Faught as departures from 2015. She finished second on the team in digs last season.
- Two seniors, five juniors
- Five players from Florida
- Nine of 16 players are over six feet tall
- August 27 vs. Florida State and Stetson
- September 9 vs. FAU and LSU
- September 21 vs. USF
- October 23 vs. SMU
- October 27 vs. Cincinnati
- November 18 vs. Temple
- November 20 vs. UConn
Last Conference Title: 2014. UCF still has six players on the roster from that team, which went 25-8 and 18-2 in The American en route to the Knights’ first NCAA appearance since 2003.
Last NCAA Appearance: 2014. The Knights lost to Miami in Gainesville in the first round. UCF last won an NCAA Tournament match in 2003, when they beat Cincinnati in Gainesville.
Something to Keep an Eye on
The back row. Jordan Pingel racked up more than 500 digs as a freshman last year, thrust into action somewhat prematurely. She’ll be shooting up UCF’s all-time defensive stat lists rather quickly at this pace.