The UCF Volleyball team is off to a 3-1 start, including a sweep of their season-opening tournament at home. UCF defeated Stony Brook, Kent State and Stetson in a combined 10 sets on their way to the championship of the Holiday Inn UCF Area Invitational.
Despite a non-tournament loss to #17 Florida State, head coach Todd Dagenais and his team should be at least satisfied with their performance to start the year.
Here's Dagenais on Monday, after watching film from the weekend:
Kia Bright looks good
The last time we saw Kia Bright, she was writhing in pain on the Venue floor during the UConn match last year, having blown out her ACL.
Fast forward 11 months and the redshirt junior looked really good, though it also looked at times like she was figuring out how to play in live game action while wearing a bulky knee brace.
She started against Stony Brook with 8 kills, and then followed that up with 11 against Kent State, 11 against Florida State and 13 against Stetson to wrap the tournament.
Even better was her defense, recording 9, 14, 11 and 8 digs respectively over the weekend's four matches.
So yeah, I'd say she's looking quite well.
Jale Hervey looks really good
Hervey kicked off 2016 with a team-best 15 kills against Stony Brook, and then followed that up with another 14 against Kent State on day one. She notched a combined 17 kills total for day two, but she was clearly able to hit her spots, given that Bright's presence on the other side opened up opponents' blocking for her.
Should UCF stay healthy and Jale continue to get free looks at the net on the attack, she should be in for a huge year.
UCF will probably look back at the Florida State match as a missed opportunity, as the Knights actually out-killed FSU for the match (40-37), but committed an astounding 31 errors to FSU's 11. By comparison, UCF committed 42 errors total in the other three matches over the weekend.
As a result, UCF dropped the first two sets by two swings each, and then hit -.065 in the third, when the Seminoles wrapped it up. The Knights also got out-blocked 19-4 up front, which wasn't really a surprise given FSU's size advantage.
After each weekend, Todd Dagenais sends out a brief tweetstorm with his observations after breaking down the film. Here's this week's takeaway:
Week 1 Thoughts:Offense was better than I thought it would be.Defense was on point, just need to make more plays. Still held OPP under goals— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 29, 2016
Week 1 Thoughts: AAC as a whole showed we will be very competitive this year. As I said before USF won the "off season" will be top 3.— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 29, 2016
Week 1 Thoughts: Having rookies in line up can cause heartburn, but Farah and Jeanne did some excellent things.— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 29, 2016
Week 1 Thoughts: People don't yet know the talent we still have on the bench, but they will when the time is right. Very pleased with them.— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 29, 2016
FINAL thought for week #1:We still haven't scratched our potential.Its going to take some time.Just a little every day and we will get there— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 29, 2016
UCF heads to Southern Illinois for their only road tournament this year, the Saluki Invitational, against Southern Illinois, Western Michigan and Northern Arizona. Before you dismiss this as a throw-away weekend against directional schools, note the following:
Big weekend coming up. NAU, WMU, and SIU are experienced teams and pre season ranked top 25 in VB Mag rank of non P-5 teams. @UCF_Volleyball— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 28, 2016
SIU is 17th in the Mid-Major poll and NAU is 25th. UCF is receiving votes. So yeah, this week ain't no slouch either.