UCF Volleyball Spring Fling Raises Money for Central Florida Children's Home

April 1, 2011

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By Sarah Tarasewicz

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In its opening weekend of non-traditional competition, the UCF volleyball team hosted the UCF Spring Fling at The Venue at UCF last Saturday and raised nearly $2,000 for the Central Florida Children's Home while playing host to 14 teams from the Southeast.

"It was really exciting to have so much energy in the gym throughout the day," UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said of the tournament. "Fifteen teams from all over Florida and the southeast really added to a great atmosphere, and between entry fees from the teams and attendance, it looks like we have raised nearly $2,000 for the Central Florida Children's Home. That is a professional organization that we are proud to be supporting and we know the money will go to a good cause."

Besides the Knights, 14 additional teams participated in the event, including 2010 NCAA Tournament participants Florida, Florida State, Auburn, Miami and Georgia Southern.

UCF opened its day with back-to-back matches against Auburn and Florida. While the squad split its contest with the Tigers, it fell in a close match-up to the Gators, 0-2 (25-23, 25-20), in its second match of the morning.

"We split the day into two priorities as coaches," Dagenais said. "The morning was geared toward playing two high-level teams and competing to the highest of our abilities. We were very competitive throughout both matches."

The Knights had three matches the second half of their day, facing Rollins, Miami and Flagler. Dagenais mixed and matched his lineups constantly throughout the afternoon, making sure each player got as much experience as possible to conclude the tournament.

"We got exactly what we wanted to get out of those three matches," Dagenais said. "We wanted our players to get experience and we wanted to try different systems. Although at times it showed how much we need to do as a whole, we came out of these three matches as a much better team than we were when we went in."

One player that got immeasurable experience in Saturday's event was freshman outside hitter Kayla Keller (San Antonio, Texas). The rookie, who graduated from Reagan High School a semester early to enroll at UCF this spring, led all outside hitters at the event in hitting percentage and passing stats.

"This spring is going to be invaluable for Kayla and her preparation for this fall," Dagenais said. "The entire team is excited to see how quickly she is progressing."

Besides Keller, Rachel Vukson (Oakville, Ont.) and Marie Reiterova (Luxembourg, Luxembourg) also had a huge impact on the Black and Gold's success during the UCF Spring Fling as they shared time at the setter position.

"I was very excited with how both setters played," Dagenais said. "They utilized the depth in our middle very well, while their decision making and location were excellent."

UCF has this weekend off from competition, but returns to the floor next weekend as it travels to Gainesville for the Florida Spring Tournament. During the event, the Knights will have matches against the host Gators, Florida State and South Florida. A complete schedule for the tournament will be release as soon as it is made available.

In the fall, the Black and Gold posted its best record since 2003 with a 16-16 overall mark and also tallied a program-best nine wins in Conference USA action and have high expectations for its spring season heading into the 2011 fall campaign.

After three seasons of being the league's youngest and most inexperienced team in terms of matches started per player, the Knights look to return up to six of their seven starters from last season's team, including Vukson, middle blockers Nichole Riedel (Denver, Colo.) and Tory McCutcheon (Milton, Ont.), outside hitter Angelica Crump (Atlanta, Ga.), right side hitter Evija Vilde (Riga, Latvia) and libero Meredith Murphy (Austin, Texas).