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Everything You Need to Know About the 2023 UCF Volleyball Team

New Conference, New Coach, New Era for UCF Volleyball

Noah Goldberg

A new era has dawned for the UCF Knights Volleyball team in multiple ways in 2023.

Not only are they in a new conference that includes several NCAA Tournament teams, but it is also the beginning of life after McKenna Melville, one of the program’s greatest players in history, and Todd Dagenais, its head coach since 2008.

However, it’s not as if all the members of last year’s storied team have finished their careers just yet, as a familiar face has taken the reigns as head coach and key defensive stalwarts are back.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Knights for 2023.

Last Season

28-2 (19-1 AAC), Won share of AAC Title, Lost in NCAA Tournament 2nd Round

It was something straight out of The Last Dance. In both Todd Dagenais and McKenna Melville’s final match in The Venue, the Knights pulled off a 3-2 victory over Houston to secure a share of a fifth consecutive AAC title in their final season in the conference.

Despite the conference success though, UCF was once again unable to progress further than the second round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Penn State, 3-1.

For more, read our Knight Cap of the season here.

This Season

Picked 9th in Big 12 Preseason Coaches Poll

The Knights were picked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 this season, coming in right behind the Kansas State team they beat 3-2 last season.

The conference’s top seven all made the NCAA Tournament last season, including Texas who won the national championship.

Who’s in Charge?

Jenny Maurer - 1st Season as Head Coach (8th season at UCF)

Maurer assumed the head coaching position after eight seasons as an associate head coach under Todd Dagenais.

It is her first time being the head coach of an NCAA volleyball program since her five-year stint at Bradley from 2011-2016.

Jenny Maurer’s UCF Assistant Coaching Record

Year Overall Conference Reg. Season Conf. Tournament Postseason Tournament
Year Overall Conference Reg. Season Conf. Tournament Postseason Tournament
2016 23-10 13-7 4th AAC -- --
2017 20-14 12-8 4th AAC -- NIVC Second Round
2018 27-4 18-0 1st AAC -- NCAA First Round
2019 25-8 14-2 1st AAC Won NCAA Second Round
2020* 16-2 8-0 1st AAC Won NCAA First Round
2021 27-7 19-1 1st AAC -- NCAA Second Round
2022 28-2 19-1 T-1st AAC -- NCAA Second Round
Total 166-47 103-19 5 Reg. Season Titles 2 Tournament Titles 5 NCAA Appearances

What to Watch for

Who’s Next?

With the graduations of McKenna Melville and Amber Olson, the Knights will have to find new players to execute offensively.

UCF’s newest setter is going to be an underclassman (redshirt freshman Abby Schomers, sophomore Renee Ralls, or true freshman Annika Sokol) with little to no NCAA game experience under her belt. Plus, the rest of the team will have to get used to working with a new setter, including those who have gotten used to working with Olson over the last several seasons.

A summer European Tour might be able to help with that.

Then, there are the actual kills. Melville was a monster, accounting for 37.5 percent of the Knights’ total team kills in 2022. It seems unlikely such a distribution will happen again. Thus, a new crop of outside hitters (from returners such as Heidi Bonde and Emily Wilson to transfers Lauren Clark and Britt Carlson to freshman Avah Armour and Doga Ocal) will be vying for the new go-to Knights killer.

The team’s ability to sort through this transition will be paramount to the preparation for their end-of-season gauntlet.


While the hitter and setter positions will see new main starters, the Knights’ Liberos and Middle Blockers are returning to help usher the program into the Big 12 era.

Abby Hansen and Claudia Dillon combined for 87% of the team’s total blocks last season, but their numbers pale in comparison to some recent seasons, with three in the last five years (2018, 2019, and 2021) ranking in the team’s top five best blocking seasons in program history.

Should the offense get off to a sluggish start, Hansen and Dillon’s blocking can help keep the Knights in a contest.

Meanwhile, both of UCF’s liberos, Chloe Scheer and Katelyn Grimes also return. They accounted for 36.7 % of the team’s total digs last season and with fellow triple-digit diggers Melville, Olson, and Dresi Pass gone, unless new talents emerge, they will have to shoulder more of the workload.

How are we doing in October?

The team’s record going into October could be an indicator of how the team will be able to stand up to the gauntlet of NCAA Tournament-level opponents they will have to go through at the end of the season.

It’s Going to Get Loud

Speaking of that gauntlet, if you thought the season finale against Houston last season was loud, wait until the national champion Texas Longhorns come to town. The upgrade in conference means more national brands will be visiting Orlando, which means more opportunities for fans of both programs to pack The Venue.

Players to Watch

#9 Abby Hansen — Middle Blocker

Former Oregon Duck Abby Hansen got the Knights’ lone All-Big 12 Preseason team selection for the 2023 season.

She is coming off a 2022 in which she recorded 116 block assists, tying 1995 Tyra Harper for the tenth-most block assists in a single season in program history, and was named to the AAC All-Conference First Team.

#15 Claudia Dillon — Middle Blocker

Noah Goldberg

While not selected to the All-Big 12 Preseason Team, Claudia Dillon is coming off a 2022 season in which she was named an AVCA All-South Region Honorable Mention.

She also took home her second All-AAC First Team selection last season after getting 208 kills (4th-most on the team) and 99 blocks.

#2 Chloe Scheer - Libero/Defensive Specialist

Noah Goldberg

While Scheer did lead the Knights with 362 digs last season, there were plenty of other players that were able to also take up a large chunk of the team’s 1,490 total digs on the season, such as fellow libero Katelyn Grimes, Melville, Olson and Pass. Only Grimes is returning this season.

Thus, unless more defensive options reveal themselves, Scheer may have to shoulder a larger load of digs than she’s normally had to in her career.

Who We’ll Miss

#20 McKenna Melville — Outside Hitter

Noah Goldberg

We have waxed poetic multiple times about what kind of once-in-a-long-time player McKenna Melville is. Her First-Team All-American selection, all-time kills record and finish amongst the top five in program history in digs is just the tip of the iceberg.

Melville also provided a major leadership presence on the team, something she will take with her as she returns home to Minnesota to succeed her mother, Kathy Gillen, as the head coach of the Eagen High School Volleyball Team.

#3 Amber Olson — Setter

Noah Goldberg

While Melville soaked up a lot of the spotlight, Amber Olson made her way into the upper echelons of setters in UCF Volleyball history, finishing her career with the third-most career assists in program history (3,992). She was also the 2022 AAC Setter of the Year and has the tenth-most career digs (1,119) and aces (120) in program history.

She graduated with a master’s degree in accounting from UCF in May 2023.

Both Melville and Olson were part of Maurer’s first recruiting class when she came to UCF. Now, the first season without them is Maurer’s first to call the shots as head coach.

Who’s New That’s Good

#13 Lauren Clark - Outside Hitter

A new Outside Hitter from Minnesota joins the Knights this season, as Lauren Clark transfers in from Florida Gulf Coast.

She was named to the All-ASUN Third Team last season after getting 257 kills, 86 digs, 65 total blocks and 23 aces.

She initially began her collegiate career at Penn State and got playing time in the 2019 NCAA Tournament as a freshman.

Roster Breakdown

  • 4 Grad Students or Seniors
  • 6 Freshmen
  • 5 Sophomores and Juniors
  • 2 Floridians (1 Central Floridian)
  • 1 International Player (Turkey)

2023 UCF Volleyball Roster

No. Name Pos Year Hometown 2022 School 2022 Stats
No. Name Pos Year Hometown 2022 School 2022 Stats
1 Abby Schomars Setter R-Fr. Omaha, Neb. UCF Redshirted
2 Chloe Scheer Libero/ Defensive Specialist Sr. Murrieta, Cal. UCF Played in 30 matches, 362 Digs, 114 assists, 31 aces
3 Sasha Cohen Middle Blocker Fr. Lakewood, Colo. Valor Christian HS N/A
4 Megan Holland Middle Blocker So. Nazareth, Penn. South Carolina Played in 2 matches
5 Doga Ocal Outside Hitter Fr. Antalya, Turkey Anatolian HS N/A
7 Annika Sol Defensive Specialist/Setter Fr. Roxborough Park, Colo. Heritage HS N/A
9 Abby Hansen Middle Blocker GS Phoenix, AR UCF Played in 30 matches, 225 kills, 127 total blocks
10 Avah Armour Outside Hitter Fr. Manitou Springs, Colo. Rampart HS N/A
11 Katelyn Grimes Libero/ Defensive Specialist Jr. Lebanon, OH UCF Played in 30 matches, 185 digs, 27 aces
12 Heidi Bonde Outside Hitter Jr. Minooka, Ill. UCF Played in 26 matches, 176 kills
13 Lauren Clark Outside Hitter GS Champlin, Minn. Florida Gulf Coast Played in 33 matches, All-ASUN 3rd Team, 257 kills, 86 digs, 65 total blocks, 23 aces
15 Claudia Dillon Middle Blocker GS Evergreen, OH UCF Played in 30 matches, 208 kills, 99 total blocks
18 Renee Ralls Setter So. Orlando, FL UCF Played in 1 match
23 Britt Carlson Outside Hitter R-Fr. Woodbury, Minn. Washington State Redshirted
26 Emily Wilson Outisde Hitter Jr. Estero, FL UCF Played in 13 matches, 48 kills, 30 digs

Schedule Breakdown

The Knights will have the opportunity to ease into the Post-Melville era as only two opponents between the beginning of the season and Oct. 14 made the NCAA Tournament last season. However, from Oct. 14 to the end of the season is a gauntlet, with every opponent making the NCAA Tournament, including National Champion Texas.

2023 UCF Volleyball Schedule

Date Day H/N/A Time Opponent Conf - Preseason Rank Coaches Poll 2022 Record 2022 RPI UCF's Results LY Last Season
Date Day H/N/A Time Opponent Conf - Preseason Rank Coaches Poll 2022 Record 2022 RPI UCF's Results LY Last Season
Fri Aug 25 N 4:30 p.m. Navy Patriot - 3rd - 16-12 140 - 3rd in Patriot League, Lost in Patriot League Championship Game
Sat Aug 26 N 12 p.m. Syracuse ACC - 14th - 11-17 97 Won 3-0 11th in ACC
Sun Aug 27 A 1 p.m. Albany America East - 5th - 7-20 269 - 5th in America East, DNQ for AE Tournament
Thu Aug 31 H 12 p.m. FIU CUSA - 6th - 8-21 220 - 7th in CUSA, Lost in 1st Round of CUSA Tournament
Fri Sep 1 H 7 p.m. Mississippi State SEC - 9th - 15-13 65 - 8th in SEC
Sat Sep 2 H 7:30 p.m. Wake Forest ACC - 9th - 17-14 93 - 8th in ACC
Sun Sep 3 H 3:30 p.m. Alabama State SWAC - 2nd - 20-15 218 - 2nd in SWAC, Lost in SWAC Championship Game, Lost in NIVC 2nd Round
Thu Sep 7 H 7 p.m. Florida State ACC - 4th RV 19-11 31 - 5th in ACC, Lost to Northern Iowa in NCAA First Round
Sat Sep 9 H 1 p.m. North Texas American - 4th in West - 16-15 120 - 4th in CUSA, Lost in CUSA Tournament Semifinal
Thu Sep 14 A 8 p.m. Purdue Big Ten - 5th 16 21-11 27 - 6th in Big Ten, Lost to (1) Louisville in NCAA Second Round
Fri Sep 15 N 5:30 p.m. Illinois Big Ten - 7th RV 15-15 84 - 7th in Big Ten
Thu Sep 21 A 6 p.m. Cincinnati Big 12 - 12th - 11-19 164 Won 3-0 Twice 5th in AAC
Fri Sep 22 A 6 p.m. Cincinnati Big 12 - 12th - 11-19 164 Won 3-0 Twice 5th in AAC
Thu Sep 28 H 7 p.m. Oklahoma Big 12 - 10th - 15-13 106 - 8th in Big 12
Fri Sep 29 H 7 p.m. Oklahoma Big 12 - 10th - 15-13 106 - 8th in Big 12
Wed Oct 4 A 7 p.m. Texas Tech Big 12 - 11th - 16-13 67 - 7th in Big 12
Wed Oct 11 H 7 p.m. West Virginia Big 12 - 13th - 7-22 172 - 8th in Big 12
Sat Oct 14 H 7 p.m. Kansas State Big 12 - 8th - 15-14 78 Won 3-2 6th in Big 12
Sat Oct 21 A 3 p.m. Baylor Big 12 - 3rd 15 25-7 14 - 2nd in Big 12, Lost to (1) Louisville in Sweet 16
Sun Oct 22 A 1 p.m. Baylor Big 12 - 3rd 15 25-7 14 - 2nd in Big 12, Lost to (1) Louisville in Sweet 16
Thu Oct 26 H 7 p.m. TCU Big 12 - 4th RV 17-11 35 - 3rd in Big 12, Lost to (1) Wisconsin in Second Round
Fri Oct 27 H 7 p.m. TCU Big 12 - 4th RV 17-11 35 - 3rd in Big 12, Lost to (1) Wisconsin in Second Round
Fri Nov 3 A 8 p.m. Houston Big 12 - 6th 19 30-4 17 Lost 3-1 in Houston T-1st in AAC, Lost to (1) Stanford in Sweet 16
Sat Nov 4 A 4 p.m. Houston Big 12 - 6th 19 30-4 17 Won 3-2 in Orlando T-1st in AAC, Lost to (1) Stanford in Sweet 16
Thu Nov 9 H 7 p.m. BYU Big 12 - 2nd 17 22-7 21 - 2nd in WCC, Lost to (2) Pittsburgh in Second Round
Fri Nov 10 H 7 p.m. BYU Big 12 - 2nd 17 22-7 21 - 2nd in WCC, Lost to (2) Pittsburgh in Second Round
Sat Nov 18 H 2 p.m. Texas Big 12 - 1st 1 28-1 1 - 1st in Big 12, 2022 NCAA National Champion
Wed Nov 22 A 7:30 p.m. Iowa State Big 12 - 7th RV 20-12 29 - 4th in Big 12, Lost to (3) Florida in Second Round
Sat Nov 25 A 2 p.m. Kansas Big 12 - 5th RV 19-11 26 Won 3-0 5th in Big 12, Lost to (2) Nebraska in Second Round

Just like in The American, there is no Big 12 Conference Tournament, so the regular season champion gets the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Last Time...

UCF did not win a conference title: 2017

The Knights were a big fish in a small pond in The American (alongside Houston). Now, they have a new head coach, are without arguably the greatest player in program history and enter a conference that includes the 2022 National Champions.

It’s been a long time since the Knights did not win a conference title at the end of the season. However, even if UCF’s conference title streak comes to an end, it does not mean a successful season is completely out of reach. The Big 12’s top five teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament, after all.