The Knights had great academic success in 2013-14.
Program on the Rise In seven seasons at UCF, head coach Todd Dagenais returned the Knights to a place they had not been since 2003; the NCAA Tournament.
In the best season under Dagenais’ direction, the 2014 squad posted 25 wins-tying the best mark since the 2003 campaign-en route to the American Athletic Conference championship and earned the first bid to the NCAA Tournament in 11 seasons.
The Knights garnered national attention, landing as high as 27 in the RPI and garnered 22 votes in the AVCA poll. A program-best three Knights earned AVCA All-America Honorable Mention honors, including DeLaina Sarden, who became the first three-time All-American.
A program-best four players were named AAC First Team selections, with DeLaina Sarden earning Player of the Year honors and Dagenais earning Coach of the Year recognition.
Since arriving on campus in 2008, the Knights have been trending upward under Dagenais, finishing the last five seasons with winning records and topping out at 21 wins in 2013 for the most wins in a campaign since 2003. UCF finished its first season in the American Athletic Conference with a third place finish and 12-6 mark in league play.
Several UCF athletes were honored for their work in The American, as DeLaina Sarden was a unanimous first team selection to the All-American Conference team while Angelica Crump, Kaye-Alese Green, Jade Hayes and Marie Reiterova were all named to the second team. Sarden also earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-America and became the first player in school history to be honored two-consecutive years.
After starting the 2012 season 3-10, the Knights went on a massive tear, closing the season winning 15 of their final 20 matches. UCF made a thrilling run to the C-USA championship match, just five years after finishing winless in conference play. Sarden earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-America for her efforts in the Knights final year in C-USA.
2011 was also a record-breaking season for the program in C-USA and outside of league play. The Knights tallied an 8-3 non-conference record that included sweeps of No. 3 Southern California and future BIG EAST opponent Pittsburgh. UCF narrowly missed receiving an at-large bid for the postseason after ending that year with a RPI at 73.
While in C-USA, the Knights totaled a program-best 12 wins to finish tied for fourth in the league. UCF topped Houston for the first time in school history and notched wins on the road at Rice and at SMU for the first time as well.
UCF student-athletes under Dagenais were rewarded greatly for their efforts. Both outside hitter Angelica Crump and setter Rachel Vukson earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-America honors while also making the AVCA All-Region Team. Crump became the first Knight in program history to earn All-C-USA First Team distinction while Vuskon and Evija Vilde made the second team and rookie middle blocker DeLaina Sarden was named C-USA Freshman of the Year.
In 2010, the Knights opened the season with seven-straight wins, the best start for the squad since 1983 and since playing in the Division I ranks. Overall, the 16-16 mark was a program-best since 2003 at the time, and the nine wins in conference were the highest since the Knights joined Conference USA in 2005.
The 2010 team also garnered two post-season awards as Kristin Fisher became only the third Knight in program history to be named to the All-CUSA Second Team. Nichole Riedel was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team, and it was the first time a pair of Knights were named to the All-CUSA teams in the same season.
In his sophomore coaching season with the Black and Gold, Dagenais helped guide outside hitter Erin Campbell to the team's second-consecutive All-Conference USA selection when she was honored with a spot on the league's second team at the conclusion of the 2009 season.
The skipper also honed the skills of his younger players in 2010, as six freshmen saw playing time at one time or another during the season.
In his first campaign at UCF, Dagenais made his presence known and proved quickly that he has what it takes to put UCF volleyball on the national map.
Under Dagenais, the Knights posted a 15-17 overall record, its best mark since 2003, and matched its best Conference USA record, going 6-10 in the fifth-toughest volleyball conference in the nation.
UCF jumped from 244 to 113 on the NCAA Women's Volleyball RPI with Dagenais at the helm, an improvement of 131 spots and defeated five teams in C-USA that it had never previously beaten: East Carolina, Marshall, SMU, Tulsa and UTEP.
Additional firsts for the UCF volleyball program were achieved under the guidance of Dagenais in 2008, as Jenny Heppert became the first UCF volleyball player to be named an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American® after being named to the second team in 2008, while Stephanie Serna became the first Knight to be voted onto an All-C-USA Volleyball Team, earning second team honors at the conclusion of the season. Serna would then go on to earn AVCA All-Midwest Region Honorable Mention honors. Lauren Rosenthal added to the firsts when she became the first UCF volleyball player to be named a C-USA Player of the Week, earning Setter of the Week honors on two occasions.
Dagenais also managed to bring in one of the most dominant volleyball teams in NCAA history when Stanford helped the Knights open the newly completed Venue at UCF on Sept. 2. A record 1,568 fans came to the opening match in which Dagenias and the Knights also honored the 1978 UCF volleyball squad that claimed the AIAW National Championship.
USA Volleyball Despite putting endless hours to help UCF volleyball take the next step, Dagenais keeps his summers active while working with USA Volleyball. In 2011 and 2012, he coached the U.S. Women's Junior A2 Programs. At the 2011 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships, Dagenais directed the USA Women's Junior A2 Team to the bronze medal of the Women's Junior Championship Division.
Adding to his High Performance coaching accomplishments, Dagenais was the head coach for the 2007 USA White Select National Team that won the silver medal at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships. In the summer of 2009, Daganais served as a member of the staff at the U.S. Women's National Team Open Tryout at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Dagenais was a court coach and evaluator at the event, putting the players through physical testing, drills and match play.
Dagenais was also part of the U.S. Volleyball Women's National Team coaching delegation to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. He also spent time as a volunteer assistant coach with the U.S. Women's National Team where he joined the team on domestic and foreign tours. Since his involvement in the 2004 Olympics, Dagenais has continued his work with USA volleyball as a lead court coach and director of USA High Performance tryouts.
The skipper was also selected by Championship Productions, one of the country's leading sports instructional video companies, to make an instructional video on how to train a libero.
Previous Coaching Stops Before assuming the post at UCF, Dagenais spent three seasons as the assistant head coach at the University of Southern California where he helped guide the Trojans to a 29-5 record and a trip to the 2007 NCAA Final Four for the fourth time in six seasons. USC closed out a successful 2007 campaign by ranking third in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll.
Prior to his appointment at USC, Dagenais spent one season with USA Volleyball working to identify and develop future National Team players. From 1998-2003 he served as the Associate Head Volleyball Coach at Michigan State University where they competed in the NCAA Tournament all five seasons during Dagenais' tenure. Dagenais was also an assistant coach at Northern Michigan in 1998, serving as the recruiting and travel coordinator for the Wildcats which competed in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Dagenais received his bachelor's degree in sports medicine (with an emphasis in exercise physiology) from Central Michigan in 1995. He played on the Chippewas' men's club team for four years and was also a certified athletic trainer. His coaching philosophy has been a fusion of several different styles learned while working under former National Team and Michigan State head coach Chuck Erbe, 2000 Olympic Team head coach Toshi Yoshida and 2004 Olympic head coach and current University of Southern California head coach Mick Haley.
"Chuck taught me that the discipline of the game is paramount to a student-athlete over-achieving on off the court," Dagenais said. "Toshi taught me to see the game at the International level, and showed me how a small matter of a few degrees of excellence means the difference of being in position to be successful or not. Mick is probably the most amazing people manager I have ever worked with. He is such a creative volleyball thinker, always finding a way to maximize individual members of a team toward a collective goal. I learned so much from his ability to manage a match in the most critical situations."