UCF Volleyball Opens Season at Georgia State Invitational

Aug. 23, 2007

Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Following an extended preseason training camp, the UCF volleyball team (0-0, 0-0 Conference USA) is looking forward to putting its new knowledge and skills to the test when it travels to Atlanta, Ga., for the Georgia State Invitational, Aug. 24-25.

The Knights will face Fordham and host Georgia State on Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Saturday's matches against East Tennessee State and Chattanooga are slated for 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Knights return seven letterwinners from last year's squad, including senior Schanell Neiderworder and junior Jenny Heppert. Neiderworder led UCF in kills (305) and attempts (866), while Heppert led the team in total blocks (71), block assists (60) and block solos (11). The Knights are also welcoming seven freshmen to the team, who all could see considerable playing time this season.

"Freshmen Kelly Weaver, Kristen Petrasic and Brittany Turnbull are such steady players," Colado observed. "They came in and started performing right away. Being freshmen, they had a lot to take in, learning new systems, new offenses and defenses. They have really done an excellent job so far."

Colado has also seen some great improvements from her returners.

"Jenny Heppert has been fantastic at training camp. She has gained more knowledge and her fitness level is so high that she is blocking a ton of balls right now for us," Colado said. "Redshirt freshman Lauren Williams' overall fitness went through the roof over the past year. She is so much stronger now and it is frightening to imagine what she will be like this year and in years to come."

Colado believes that her team's strength going into this weekend's tournament lies in their service and serve receive. She feels that the Knights have obtained a very high level of discipline in these areas over the course of training camp.

Fordham finished the 2006 season with a 21-15 record and tied for third place in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 6-7 league mark. Fordham returns nine letterwinners from last season, which includes two starters and a libero. The Rams' top returner, Jolanda Gunning-Snowden, registered 274 kills, 58 digs and 57 total blocks as a freshman a year ago and will help guide the five freshmen that joined the squad this season.

Georgia State concluded their 2006 season with a 10-19 overall record and a 6-12 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. This season Georgia State has seven freshmen on its roster as well as seven upperclassmen. One of the Panthers top newcomers, Noelle Boyd, was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team as a setter last season and will anchor the team in 2007.

In 2006, ETSU (27-5) set a new school record with 16 consecutive victories and captured the program's first regular season championship with a perfect 9-0 conference record in the Atlantic Sun. The Bucs lost four starters from last season, but will welcome seven newcomers that recieved honorable mention honors in a ranking of the nation's best recruiting classes by Prepvolleyball.com.

After finishing fifth in the Southern Conference with a 10-8 league record, Chattanooga returns all six of its starters and a libero in 2007, as well as bringing in four newcomers. Libero Lara Newberry, a member of the 2006 SoCon All-Tournament Team, is pegged as one of Chattanooga's top newcomers after recording 721 digs last season. Joining Newberry for her senior year is Leslee Ball, who put up some big numbers in 2006 with 395 kills and 103 blocks.

"We are ready to play someone other than ourselves," Colado said. "We are ready to see where we stand against other teams as well as looking for continued progress."

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