Pingel Set for Final Season at UCF

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – Within collegiate athletics, the constant turnover of players due to graduation and transfers places a premium on leadership. Every year, coaches across the country must rely on a new batch of upperclassmen to take the mantle of team leader.

For the last three seasons, UCF Volleyball head coach Todd Dagenais has not had to deal with that conundrum. A freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo., reported for preseason camp poised to make an impact.

Jordan Pingel has been the calm, steady presence in the UCF back row for three consecutive seasons. The lone senior on the 2018 squad is set to enter her fourth year as a starter and on the verge of making history.

“Jordan has really matured over the last three years in so many ways,” Dagenais said. “She’s learned that you can’t just get by on talent alone. You have to use your talent and refine your game. She has been an incredible stabilizing force in the locker room, dealing with small issues and serving as a sounding board for young players. Her importance to this program is immeasurable. On the court, she has great vision. She uses proper footwork and technique, which has led to better results. A lot of it comes from her experience being a three-year starter.”

During her time at UCF, she has seen the Knights post a pair of 20-win seasons and earn a trip to the postseason with the 2017 National Invitational Volleyball Championship. A steady influence in the locker room, Pingel credited accountability for the Knights’ success during her tenure.

“People are more comfortable holding each other accountable,” Pingel said. “I’ve grown a lot more confident in my teammates, because we have a great trust between each other. When I started out here, I wasn’t confident enough to be vocal, but I feel like I’ve really grown in my ability help other players out on the court. I know that if it benefits the team on the floor or the culture of the program, I’m not afraid to say it.”

The 5-foot-7 libero wasted little time as a rookie taking over in the back row. Pingel finished just two digs shy of the single-season record as a freshman with 570 stops. A year later, she posted the second-highest tally at 554, followed by the third best in 2017 at 541. She will enter her final campaign with 1,665 career digs, just 335 away from becoming the first player in program history with 2,000.

“We had no doubt that she would be a record-setting defensive player for us,” Dagenais added. “She was that way in club and high school. There was a reason she was considered one of the top players in the nation. She featured extensively in the youth and junior national team training programs. We knew that she was going to be a special impact player for us.”

Pingel will face another test in her leadership in 2018 - being the only senior on the team. Last year, fellow junior Miranda Watkins elected to do what so many UCF Volleyball players have done during the Dagenais era – graduate in three years. Despite losing a calming influence in Watkins, Pingel will be aided by upperclassmen Alli Sabol and Erin Olson, as well as a cast of experienced freshmen and sophomores.

"It's tough to be going through senior year without Miranda,” Pingel said. “She was my buddy from our first day freshman year. Even though she graduated early, I have a lot of other great leaders on the team that help me through this process. On top of that, this freshman class has made it easy to be a leader. I don’t mind being the only senior on this team.”

With the 2018 season a little over a week away, the Knights will hit the road for the opening six matches of the campaign. Playing in tournaments at Miami and Florida will test the young squad and require a leader to guide them through, a duty that Pingel is eager to embrace.

“I’m excited for this season to start,” Pingel concluded. “We have the ability to do something special. I’m not done yet.”

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