2006 UCF Volleyball Preview

Aug. 21, 2006

2006 UCF Volleyball Season Preview

HOME AGAIN A year ago, UCF had just 10 matches at home and did not play a contest in Orlando until Sept. 27. This season will be different as the squad will play 15 matches at home. The home slate includes a pair of tournaments. The Golden Knights open the season at home against Stetson on Aug. 25.

SENIOR LEADER Jana Mitchell enters the year as one of the top middle blockers in Conference USA. Her 1.16 blocks per game were good for fourth in the league last year. Mitchell is one of four seniors on the UCF squad this season. Leah Alexander, Maina Heming and Vesna Ukic are also entering their senior campaign. All three players joined UCF in the fall of 2005 after transferring from junior colleges.

NEW FACES Six newcomers are set to join the Golden Knights this fall and compete for playing time. Included in the newcomers are four freshmen - Erin Campbell, Tricia Scott, Lauren Williams and Andrea Youngblood. Cassie Ramakers from Indian Hills Community College in Iowa will also join the squad. In June, sophomore Stephanie Serna transferred to UCF from Birmingham-Southern.

DEEP IN THE MIDDLE The Golden Knights are deep at a number of positions this season, most notably middle blocker. In addition to Jana Mitchell, who made 25 starts in 2005, UCF has three other players who will see time at the position. Jenny Heppert showed promise as a freshman a year ago, playing in 76 games and averaging 1.04 blocks per game. Lauren Williams, a local product from nearby Lake Mary, and transfer Stephanie Serna will also compete for playing time at middle blocker.

TOUGH SLATE UCF will have a tough schedule in 2006, facing four squads that played in the postseason a year ago. The Golden Knights will visit Florida, a team that advanced to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals. UCF will also face Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M away from home. In Conference USA play, the Golden Knights will face defending league champion Marshall on two occasions.

SPRING SUCCESS Head coach Meg Colado is hoping that UCF's successful spring campaign will carry over to the 2006 regular season. The Golden Knights participated in three events in the spring. In addition to two in-state events, UCF travelled to the Tar Heel State to face Colorado and host North Carolina. UCF played four matches, recording a win against the Tar Heels. Both North Carolina and Colorado participated in the NCAA Championship in 2005.

ALL SET A year ago, Leah Alexander saw most of the playing time at setter, appearing in 95 games and averaging 9.92 assists. This season, she will share playing time with rookie Andrea Youngblood. A Colorado native, Youngblood was a 2005 AAU All-America selection playing with the Front Range Volleyball Club.

WELCOME BACK, COACH UCF will have a new, but familiar face on the bench this year as Jenny Frank, who starred at UCF from 2000-03, returns to her alma mater as an assistant coach. Frank now works under her collegiate coach, Meg Colado. One of the greatest players in school history, Frank led the Golden Knights to three NCAA Championship appearances. As a senior in 2003, the setter was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and became the first player at UCF to earn Division I All-America recognition at the Division I level as she claimed honorable mention honors from the AVCA. She will work directly with UCF's setters.

WORLD TOUR A trio of Golden Knights - Lorin Lukas, Jana Mitchell and Schanell Neiderworder - travelled to Europe this summer and played volleyball with USA Athletes International. The UCF players were three of the 17 American college players who went overseas. On the trip, Lukas, Mitchell and Neiderworder played matches against club teams in Holland and Germany.

TOURNAMENT TIME In 2005, the Golden Knights played in just one in-season tournament. UCF participated in Diet Coke Classic in Minnesota, but did not have a home tournament. This year, the Golden Knights will host a pair of tournaments. BYU, Florida International and Stetson will open the season on Aug. 25 with the UCF Fall Invitational. UCF will welcome Furman, Samford and Utah Valley State for the UCF Classic, which begins on Sept. 1. Last season marked the first time since 1998 that the Golden Knights did not host an in-season event.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE ON THE WAY The Golden Knights will be playing their home contests in the current configuration at UCF Arena for the final time this year. Next season, UCF will play in the new Convocation Center, which is slated to open in the fall of 2007. The venue is located directly in front of the current arena. During the 2007 season, UCF Arena will be renovated and developed into a volleyball-only facility. The Golden Knights will move back into UCF Arena in time for the 2008 season.