The UCF Knights held their first full socially distanced and masked practice of the 2020-21 season Tuesday at The Venue.
The team reported for organization day on Monday, wearing face masks and ready to grab some brand spankin’ new UCF gear. They also held a team meeting via Zoom.
There are some changes that came with this season’s practice, however. There have been several health and safety procedures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thirteenth-year head coach Todd Dagenais shared a recap on Twitter of the team’s first day of practice, featuring social distancing markings on the court, medical care and even volleyball sanitization. He also said the first day was full of “game-like reps” and motor learning.
“This group is going to be fun to coach… even more fun to watch,” Dagenais said.
Dagenais also thanks UCF’s sports medicine staff for helping them get ready for action:
In addition to Covid tests, our @UCF_Volleyball players have had EKG’s,blood work and full physicals.The medical care is wonderful. We continue to move forward until health experts tell us not to. Energy is off the charts. So happy to be together. Thank you @UCFKnights Sports Med— Todd Dagenais (@ucfvbtodd) August 12, 2020
After every practice session, up to 250 practice volleyballs must be disinfected, Dagenais said. He shared a video of the process, which shows someone off-camera rolling the balls toward Director of Operations T.J. Read, who hoses them down with disinfectant. The balls are then dried with towels.
Dagenais also noted that keeping six feet apart during practice isn’t totally a bad thing.
“Social distancing actually allows us to practice ball control, ball control and MORE ball control,” he said. “Those that know us know that ball control is the key to any team’s success!”
UCF finished last season 25-8, winning their second straight conference title and making their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
UCF men’s and women’s soccer were also back on campus for their first day of training and preseason camp Friday and Wednesday, respectively.
For more photos from the first day of volleyball practice, see UCF Athletics’ photo gallery here.
AAC announces its 2020 fall sports conference plans
The American Athletic Conference announced on Aug. 5 its plans for 2020 fall sports seasons, including women’s volleyball in addition to football and men’s and women’s soccer.
AAC institutions will be able to schedule non-conference competitions at their discretion, but must abide by guidelines set by the Medical Advisory Group. The number of qualifying teams for conference championships for women’s volleyball has been reduced to four, according to a press release.
The American also announced its tentative schedule for conference play.
There will be a two-division format — the East Division includes UCF, Cincinnati, ECU, Temple and USF while the West Division includes Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State.
Conference volleyball will start the weekend of Sept. 24-27 and end the weekend of Nov. 12-15.
The American also announced non-conference matches can be played during three weekends on or after Sept. 1.
The 2020 American Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held Nov. 21-22 at Cincinnati. The top two teams from the east and the west will qualify.
Daniella Medina is a contributing writer for the Black & Gold Banneret. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.