Aug. 31, 2010
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By John Denton
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - As the lone remaining member of the 2007 recruiting class and the only four-year player on UCF's volleyball team, Kristin Fisher could have been named this season's team captain almost by default.
But her ascension to that role is, without question, no token measure. No player on UCF's promising volleyball squad is more respected for her locker room leadership and admired for her on-court grit than Fisher. Evidence of that is the fact that she isn't just the team captain, but the unanimous choice to serve as the leader.
And Fisher's leadership skills extend past even her teammates. Head coach Todd Dagenais considers the 5-foot-10 outside hitter from Clearwater somewhat of an extension of his coaching staff.
"We have some fantastic meetings behind closed doors just her and I bouncing around thoughts and ideas," said Dagenais, who is in his third season at UCF. "Fish really has the respect of the team and the pulse of the team. When she comes into my office and says, `We need to do this,' then we're going to do it because that's how much I respect her leadership. She's almost like an assistant coach."
She's also very much a force on the court. She helped the Knights race to a 3-0 start to the season by winning nine consecutive sets in the season-opening Florida Gulf Coast Tournament in Ft. Myers last weekend. In victories against Houston Baptist, Florida Gulf Coast and Bethune-Cookman, Fisher totaled 45 kills, 19 digs and averaged 5.39 points (kills, service aces and blocks) a set. She had a double-double in the season opener (12 kills and 14 digs) and she's had double-digit kills in 11-consecutive matches dating back to last season.
And no one is more excited about the immediate and long-range future of the program than Fisher, the player with the most service time on the roster.
"I really think we can be awesome this season because we have so much talent," said Fisher, whose Knights play three matches in Wilmington, N.C. starting on Friday and play their home-opener on Sept. 10. "This year is going to be amazing and the next year is going to be even better. I'm excited where this program has come from and where it's going and with the changes that we've made since I've been here."
Fisher has certainly seen plenty of change in her time at UCF. She saw the coaching change from Meg Colado to Dagenais, witnessed several fellow classmates leave the team and she's been a part of a change in the culture of the program. She chuckles at the notion that she's the only person with four seasons of experience considering that she was an overachieving walk-on much of her career.
"Of course, I've had to work hard because it's Division I athletics. It's been an experience I wouldn't change for anything in the world," Fisher said. "I'm glad I've been able to stick around for four years. I came in with the Class of 2007 and I'm the only one left. It's strange in a lot of ways, but I'm proud I stuck it out and I was the last one."
Dagenais said that Fisher is the epitome of an athlete who has gotten the most out of her talent. At 5-foot-10, she is somewhat undersized, but she makes up for it with smarts and grit. Because she redshirted as a freshman, Fisher is a junior athletically, but a senior in the classroom. She will soon get her degree in nursing and is a big part of why the returning players had a dazzling 3.667 grade-point average last year.
"She's a great story of a kid who came as a walk-on, played at a different position and has overcome an ACL tear and was considered short," Dagenais said. "She's overcome all of that and is the definition of heart and desire."
Last season, Fisher played in all 30 matches last season and led the team in service aces (24) and ranked second in kills (113) and third in digs (254). That experience should come in handy for a young UCF squad that has five true freshmen, four sophomores and two redshirt freshmen. Without fail, that group looks to Fisher for guidance on and off the floor.
"Kristin's great. She really leads by example," sophomore middle blocker Tory McCutcheon said. "She can be quiet sometimes, but you know that she's there and you know what she expects from each one of us."
And Fisher certainly takes her role as team captain very seriously.
"It's an honor being in this role and knowing the girls who have had this role before. Our team trusting me in that role makes it really special," Fisher said. "You have to give out a lot of tough love, but the respect is there. They know I'm in this position, but I'm their friend, too. I try to give them their space and let them be grownups in college. Everyone is going to make their own mistakes, but I just try to keep everybody going in the same direction and toward the same goal."