UCF vs. FAU (Exhibition)
ORLANDO – The UCF volleyball team is set to make its season debut on Monday when the Knights square off against FAU for an exhibition at 4:00 p.m. The next day, Tuesday, Jan. 26, UCF will officially start the season with a 4:00 p.m. regular season match against the Owls.
The 2019 UCF volleyball squad was one of the best in program history, posting a 25-8, 14-2 record throughout the season.
Notable regular season victories for the Knights in 2019 included wins over then No. 14 Illinois, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Kansas, South Carolina and sweeping South Florida to win the War on I-4.
Between 2018 and 2019, UCF has led the American Athletic Conference with a combined 32-2 record in league play.
After going undefeated in 2018 conference action to claim the title, the Knights were tabbed to host the inaugural AAC Championship Tournament in November 2019. UCF did not disappoint in front of its home crowd, taking down AAC regular season champions Cincinnati to win their second straight league title.
In 2019, UCF's biggest foe was Cincinnati, who went 15-1 in conference play to claim the regular season conference crown. The Knights did battle with the Bearcats twice in the regular season, dropping both contests in four sets or less, but the two squared off once again in the conference tournament championship match, where UCF won in dramatic, five set fashion (21-25, 25-16, 26-24, 24-26, 15-10).
With the victory, UCF secured the automatic bid representing The American in the NCAA Tournament, marking the Knights' tenth appearance all-time in the tournament.
The Black and Gold defeated Florida State in the first round. The win marked the first NCAA Tournament win of head coach Todd Dagenais's career and sent UCF to the second round for the first time since 2003. It was also the game that gave coach Dagenais career win number 237, making him UCF Volleyball's all-time winningest head coach.
In 2020-21, the Knights are once again selected to repeat as AAC champions.
UCF received 10 out of 11 first-place votes to claim the top spot in the poll over Cincinnati. The Bearcats were second in the poll with one first place vote (coming from UCF, who could not vote for themselves).
In addition to the 10 first place votes predicting UCF to win the conference, UCF was also picked to win The American's East Division. The Knights garnered 46 points to claim first place in that regard.
Rounding out the rest of the East Division poll, Cincinnati was predicted to finish second with 37 total points, Temple was third with 26 points, and ECU and South Florida were tied for fourth place with 16 points each.
The Knights made quick work of FAU in 2019 with a 3-0 sweep over the Owls on Sept. 21, 2019. UCF was ahead for most of the match, jumping ahead early in all three sets and not relinquishing the lead to take each set by seven or more points.
The Knights had 17 ½ blocks in just three sets in their last win over the Owls. McKenna Melville tallied eight kills and seven digs while Anne-Marie Watson also looked strong, hitting .500 for nine kills and four blocks. Kathryn Wesolich also chimed in with six block assists and two kills.
The Knights are 33-9 all-time against the Owls headed into Monday's contest, with UCF's last loss coming in 2013 in a 3-2 loss at FAU.
All home UCF Volleyball matches this spring will be free to fans on a first-come, first-served basis. Capacity for The Venue this season is 226 people, or roughly twenty-five percent of full capacity. There will be no physical ticketing, but the number of fans entering The Venue will be counted and admission will be cut off once capacity is reached. Ticketing protocols, as well as capacity limitations for fans are subject to change throughout the season.
"I feel very fortunate that we will have some fans here to cheer for us," said Dagenais. "I think that will give us the extra pep in our step when we perform at home."
Fans will be required to wear face coverings at all times, except while actively eating or drinking. Other safety measures in place for the 2021 season include:
- Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the concourse
- Floor graphics are located throughout the Arena where lines may form to encourage social distancing
- Bathrooms and other common touch points will be cleaned and sanitized regularly
- COVID-19 signage encouraging best practices will be located throughout the Arena
- Every other row will be blocked off to encourage social distancing
For the latest information on ticketing information for 2021 UCF Volleyball home events, contact the ticket office at (407) 823-1000, or follow us on social at UCF Volleyball on Facebook (/UCFVolleyball), Twitter (@UCF_Volleyball) and Instagram (@UCF.Volleyball).
[On facing FAU]
"FAU is going to be a brand-new team this year compared to what we've seen in the last couple of years. They have some returning starters that have the ability to do great things for them, but we don't know much about the new players they have brought in. I'm assuming we will be facing a top-50 or top-40 program, with the ability to win the Conference-USA, which I know they can do. That's the team that we have to prepare for."
[On figuring out the ideal lineup]
"We haven't been able to have that normal 'Spring Training' time, the summer open gyms, the typical stuff that we normally have to try to fill in those holes. We basically have had 11 days to try to figure it out. How long is it going to take? I don't even know that we will have it completely figured out until conference tournament time. We're going to be tinkering and adjusting all season, but that's something we as coaches are going to have to embrace."
[On season aspirations]
"We've won three of the last six conference championships. That is always the aspiration and the goal… the teams that trained really smart and created a gap before COVID-19, that gap has shrunk since, and so now, we are going to have to go out and execute the best we can to still meet our expectations, which are to win a conference championship and move on to the NCAA Tournament like it is every year. We aren't going to back down from that just because we've faced some adversity."
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