Volleyball

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That's A Wrap
April 06, 2016
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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) -- The UCF volleyball team closed out their spring season on Wednesday, defeating Florida Southern in Lakeland.

The Knights fell short in the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-19, but were able to close out Florida Southern in the last three sets. The Black and Gold cruised to a 25-14 win in the third set. UCF edged Florida Southern 26-24 in the fourth set and 25-23 in the fifth set.

Taylor Gallart led the Knights with 23 kills and hit .313, while Taylor Wickey tallied eight kills while hitting .400. Jale Hervey recorded eight kills; Whitney Turner finished with seven kills, and Ann Richards recorded six kills.

Head Coach Todd Dagenais: "Tonight we made a concerted effort to make sure that our younger players got as much play time as possible. We knew it would be a challenge, especially with the fact Florida Southern has a top 15, or maybe even a top 10 Division II program.

"They simply outplayed us in the first set, and we couldn't handle the ball well enough to establish any rhythm in our offense. We began to stabilize late in set two, coming back from a large deficit, but just fell short in the end. I really feel like we executed well and found a great rhythm in the third set. From there it was just a battle of which team would execute the most for the remaining two sets. In both sets the two teams just traded points back-and-forth until we were able to close them out at the very end.

"We come out of the spring with no doubt about the things that we need to work on to reach our goals this fall. The team seems very committed to fixing as much as they can on their own. Then we will hit the floor running in the fall and finalize the type of team we are committed to being. We still know we have a lot of work to do. However, every person in the locker room is committed to making the changes necessary."

Now that the spring season has concluded, Dagenais reflected on what he saw from the team.

"I think the spring was very productive for a couple of different reasons. First we found out all the things that we still need to do to be a championship level team. Secondly, so many of our young players got extra matches under their belt.

"It was especially good to use so many players that got little or no playtime during the season when we played our last match against Florida Southern. They needed to get that taste of the intensity of college volleyball. There's no doubt that they will grow from their experience being on the court.

"They also have a much better idea of the mental intensity and toughness it takes to win at the collegiate level no matter who your opponent is. For some it was a wakeup call, and for others we could see them respond the way you would hope any experienced player would respond. Athletic talent will not be an issue this fall whatsoever. However, this program has always taken a great deal of pride in blocking and defense.

"The truth is we still have a lot of work to do in this area before we start playing matches on the count. All the tools are there, all the ingredients are there, but we have to find a way to put them together.

"Fortunately coaches and players are on the same page of what needs to be accomplished. While it's never a comfortable feeling looking on the floor and seeing so many freshmen and first-year players, watching the growth was very reassuring that we are heading in the right direction. I'm very confident that we will be a completely different team than we were last fall, and even the spring.

"This team worked extremely hard in the weight room all semester long, even in the middle of our most intense on-court training cycle. They're tough, and I have a lot of respect for them accepting the challenge of working hard in the weight room while working very hard on the volleyball court.

"They are trying so hard to uphold the expectations and the intensity of the program. We see that as coaches every day. They want to honor the program and what it has become over the last eight years. But there is simply no replacement for experience and that's what they're getting from last fall and the spring. I look forward to seeing how it translates once we begin training again in August."

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