Incoming students moving in wasn't the only action on UCF's campus this past weekend.
The UCF volleyball team played its first full-length scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday as it gears up for the season that starts in less than two weeks.
The Black and Gold Scrimmage was the first time the team has gone to 25 points. All UCF players in attendance got significant time in the game, and most played for both sides at some point. The Gold side ultimately came out with the victory.
The game was also the first time head coach Todd Dagenais got to see the 2014-2015 volleyball team, including the six newcomers, play together in live action.
"I told the team right after [the scrimmage] I think there's some phases of the game that we're weeks ahead of where I wanted to be," Dagenais said. "I think we're weeks ahead in our offense, our offensive system work, our setting is exceptional and our defense is pretty good right now. A little bit behind in the serve-receive game but I think that happens when you go live for the first time to 25 points."
Only two of the six newcomers are freshman. The other four are transfer players who have already played college-level volleyball.
"Each of these new players are adding a nice depth for us," Dagenais said. "Each of the six are really starting to carve out a role for themselves."
He also said that the foundation of this team stems from the six seniors.
"The seniors for us are the culture," Dagenais said. "They really, for us, are the ones that have been there since the formative days of us rebuilding this program back up into a nationally prominent program. Their loyalty to the program, their passion for the program, all the work that they've put in on and off the court, we can even put a value on that."
One of those seniors is DeLaina Sarden. Among other accolades, Sarden was named to the All-American Athletic Conference First Team and received an AVCA honorable mention last season. She also recorded the most kills on the team last season at 395, while still hitting an impressive .409, the highest average in the AAC.
"I don't think people realize what it's like to have an athlete on your side of the net where she is so dependable, and even when teams try to double block her and set a defense up to stop her she knows ways to try and defeat it," Dagenais said. "She has one of those opportunities this year to be one of the top five or six hitters in the entire country."
Sarden knows just how important she is to a UCF team that finished third in the AAC a year ago, and has plans on improving on that.
"I know when we play teams their main goal is gonna be to shut me down, and I cant let that stop me," Sarden said. "Whether I have a triple block or a double block I have to find ways to at least get them out of system, not every swing is a kill. Knowing that, I know that I have to create the shots for myself."
Sophomore Taylor Gallart also stood out, tallying 157 kills. At the scrimmage, she recorded the most kills, 24, and shot .292.
"My freshman year I was nervous, and I think I was a little hesitant with things I did on the court," Gallart said. "Now that I'm a sophomore I'm a lot more comfortable with the girls, I know them really well and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable taking more of a role on the team."
UCF has not made an NCAA tournament or won a conference championship since 2003. Dagenais sets making the tournament as the main priority before the season.
"I think this team, primary goal number one is to win the American Athletic Conference," Dagenais said. "Number two, if that doesn't happen for whatever reason, put ourselves in a position to get an at large bid."
The team has another scrimmage this Saturday at 2 p.m. that is open to the public.
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