2008 UCF Volleyball Season Preview - Returners

Aug. 26, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - In part two of the three-part 2008 UCF volleyball season preview, first-year head coach Todd Dagenais discusses the experience he has returning for the year and how the returning letterwinners will factor into his new direction for the program.

Three newcomers will be competing amongst each other at the libero position this season, but they will also be challenging sophomore Kristen Petrasic (Carrollton, Texas) for the spot. Petrasic ranks second on the UCF individual match register after totaling 34 digs vs. Chattanooga last season as the Knights' starting libero. Not only that, but the Carrollton, Texas, native also tallied eight service aces against Florida Atlantic last season, matching the second-highest mark in an individual match in program history.

"Kristen Petrasic has a lot of experience coming in playing a libero position," Dagenais said. "We are working on expanding her range, expanding her range of technique, increasing the percentage on her pass and being able to block on defense. She made a lot of great strides this spring when we were working on consistency. It is going to be interesting to see how she steps up to compete for that position because we are bringing in several players that want it."

Andrea Youngblood (Castle Rock, Colo.) also has a challenge on her hands entering the 2008 season. After sharing time at the setter position last season, Youngblood must again compete for her starting spot. In 24 games played, the Castle Rock, Colo., native totaled 269 assists and 32 service aces for the Knights last season. Youngblood also tied for the third position on the program's single-match register after posting seven service aces against Memphis.

"Andrea Youngblood brings it all," Dagenais stated. "I thought that she did a fantastic job this spring of running the team and implementing the offense. We are going to go back to techniques that she is very comfortable with coming from her club program. We are looking for a lot of growth from her because of her familiarity with the system that we are trying to implement."

Sophomore Lauren Williams (Lake Mary, Fla.) returns to the Knights lineup after missing a majority of last season due to injuries. She is going to be looked upon to have a big impact on not only the Black and Gold's offense, but its defense as well. In only 19 matches played in 2007, Williams averaged 1.69 kills per game and posted 42 blocks.

"Lauren Williams is one of the best athletes on the team," Dagenais said. "We are trying to find more ways for her to be able to score points and more ways for her to be disciplined in her blocks so she can become a huge blocking presence at the net. She has the athletic ability to dominate the conference. She is strong, physical and everything that we need to have to have a physical presence at the net to be successful in this league."

Junior Erin Campbell (Kansas City, Mo.) also looks to expand her role on the Knights' squad this season after producing a majority of the Knights' offensive fire-power last season. The Kansas City, Mo., native recorded team-highs in kills (346), digs (314) and points (404) last season, while also posting 10 double-doubles.

"We are going to count on Erin Campbell to be a very consistent part of our offense," Dagenais said. "Not only do we need her in the back court, but this is the year that we need her to step up and become an integral part of our offense, hitting for percentage and for success. Not only do we need points out of her, now we need high percentage and low error. She has spent the entire spring working hard at being cerebral in how to attack shots and how to manipulate defenses and work the weak part of the defense. She really has grown in her mental part of the game in the spring. We are really looking forward to see how that translates onto the volleyball court."

The Knights' young squad is not without great leadership. Senior captains Jenny Heppert (Lawrence, Kan.) and Stephanie Serna (San Antonio, Texas) have assumed that task willingly. Having been through all the ups and downs of the program and experiencing all that a student-athlete must face, the duo are a fine resource for their younger teammates.

Serna concluded the 2007 season ranked second on the team in kills (325) and points (360), while averaging 3.01 kills per game. The San Antonio, Texas, native was also named to both the Georgia State and UCF Invitational All-Tournament teams last season.

"Stephanie Serna is such a dynamic athlete," Dagenais said. "We have moved her around and let her play a little bit of right side and left side, and she is continuing to be really committed to learning the back row part of the game, which can allow for her to become more of an all-around player. She has worked so hard to become a better-rounded player and I am proud of the effort that she has put forth."

Last season, Heppert was rewarded for her hard work both on and off the court when she became the program's first player to be named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III First Team and the Conference USA All-Academic Team. The six-foot middle blocker was amongst the league's best, posting 1.06 blocks per game and totaling 122 blocks, including 22 solo. Heppert was named the UCF Invitational Most Valuable Player after setting career-high marks with 10 total blocks, eight block assists and 15 kills in the championship match vs. Montana State for her first career double-double.

"Jenny Heppert returns to us as a senior captain middle blocker," Dagenais said. "She has worked so hard in the offseason to improve her game and all-around play. She led the team in blocks last year and we are going to need her to do the same kind of things this year, as well as continuing to be an offensive powerhouse."

Look for the conclusion of the 2008 UCF volleyball season preview on Wednesday, exclusively at www.UCFAthletics.com.

Season tickets for UCF's 2008 volleyball campaign at The Venue are currently available by calling the UCF athletics ticket office at 407-UCF-1000. For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.