Feb. 2, 2012
Read John Denton's Knights Insider |
Follow us on Twitter |
Get social with the Knights on Facebook
By Eric DeSalvo
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The rising sophomore class for the UCF volleyball team is chocked full of talent. With six second-year players back in the fold for the Knights, 2012 will be another chance for the squad to progress even more after turning in a 20-win season in 2011 and capturing a school-record 12 Conference USA wins.
Head coach Todd Dagenais shared his thoughts on the talent group.
On Marie Reiterova...
"Marie has a fantastic opportunity this spring to take control of the team. She gets a two-year head start and a semester as the lead setter and there are high expectations for her. This is an offense that is really clicking on a lot of levels with a lot of weapons. I think she is an extremely skilled setter internationally, very physical, a terrific blocker and a great defender. I think there are a lot of things that she is going to really add to our team. She will be in a fight once it gets into the fall with some players coming in, but it really depends on what kind of spring she has. We have all of the confidence in the world in Marie. We think she is an outstanding setter and think our program is in good hands when she is setting the ball."
On DeLaina Sarden...
"As we were watching DeLaina in club, we knew that it was going to be pretty difficult to keep her off of the floor all season. We knew it was just going to be a matter of her seeing the game in the right order and getting enough experience in practice. But once she started hitting .300 every day in practice, we knew that she had to go in the lineup somewhere. When it was time, we made the switch, and boy did it pay off. She went right in and was as steady as any freshmen could me in the middle blocker position that I had ever seen. She was so solid by putting up offensive numbers and blocking well. She did everything you needed a middle blocker to do. She just has this swagger and mentality of, `Put three blockers on me, I don't care.' It was really fun to watch a freshman go out there and dominate some of the conference's best middle blockers. When you have an athlete like that, the sky is the limit. There are so many things we will do with her starting this spring such as changing her points of attack, high balls and quick balls. There is so much we can do with her and is someone who can really become big time for us and will."
On Kaye-Alese Green...
"Kaye is another one of those athletes where we look at her and know there will come a time when we can't keep her off of the floor either. Here is a player that is jumping 10-4, 10-5 and is easily the hardest hitter on the team. The thing that we are working on with here is experience. We will get matches under her belt and really turn her loose this spring. She is going to get a ton of playing time. Once she starts hitting .300 and blocking 1.5 shots per game, she will be very hard to keep off of the floor. Easily she is our most fast-twitch and best overall athlete on the team. Once the experience and skill factor catches up, she is going really be a force to be reckoned with in this conference."
On Ashley Gialenios...
"Ashley came in last year and really had a thankless job. It was a situation where we thought it would be a semester where she could just learn and grow and then she got pressed into action. She was on the floor for nearly two-thirds of a really good season. Her hitting percentage wasn't as high as she, or us, would've wanted. Her error percentage is a little higher than we wanted, but she is 100% committed to getting that percentage down and her hitting percentage up. She is going to really work hard in the offseason in the weight room and the strength and condition and agility phase as well as her skill work. The thing that Ashley did for us was stabilize us in serve receive, defense and blocked very well by coming a shutdown left-front blocker. She did a lot of those hidden things that helped us win a lot of close matches down the stretch. SMU was a great example where she played the last two points like her life depended on it. She has a great upside for us and will continue to have an important role in our offense because she does a lot of things well."
On Loren Cory...
"You look at someone who is 6-foot-5. That is a lot of physicality that can change a game. Now for us it is helping her get back to the player she was skill-wise because she can hit hard and is a big, physical blocker. We will train her at both the left and right side. We feel like a 6-5 blocker on the right side is important to shutting down opponents and that a 6-5 blocker on the left side is great to shutdown slide hitters one-on-one. There are a lot of areas where we can use her and her offense is getting better every day. She is starting to command the ball, and we think she has a lot of hidden leadership potential. She is a great leader who is very well spoken. She is articulate and well-respected by the players. Again, another great player that we are going to have to find a way to get her some playing time too because that size, power and blocking ability is something that will be a great asset for us."
On Kayla Keller...
"We saw potential right away with her after she put up 20 kills on Florida in the spring and another 16 or 17 against Florida State. We knew that she was just a big-gamer. She isn't the tallest, but jumps well and hits hard and has a volleyball IQ that is through the roof. She is probably the smartest volleyball player on the team. There are so many things someone like that can do, and now we are trying to get her healthy, back in volleyball shape and turn her loose again. A skill player like that will have an impact on a team any team, anywhere at any time. We are still looking for a lot of big things out of Kayla. You can't be one of the best hitters in a huge state like Texas and not have a lot of skill. That is exactly what she brings. She is an experienced warrior in the outside hitting position.