Defining a Season
Through big matches and memorable events, fans get into the minds of head coach Todd Dagenais and the Knights as they define the 2008 season in their own words. Check back throughout the year for new quotes on the squad's latest endeavors and new encounters.
Head coach Todd Dagenais on the Black and Gold Scrimmage held Saturday, Aug. 23 at The Venue at UCF:
"This scrimmage was really important for us to get through the nerves of actually competing in front of somebody other than ourselves. I thought there were a lot of people that stepped up and gave nice performances tonight. I thought, overall, that we were able to showcase a lot of the things that we have been working on - blocking, some of the serve receive and some of the attacking tactics and things like that. We are really making some strides and I think right now we are about three weeks ahead of schedule."
Senior Stephanie Serna on the fan support:
"I was really surprised at how many people showed up to support us tonight. I think it just goes along with the buzz surrounding UCF volleyball right now. It just proves how much harder we have worked and how hard Todd has worked to get a fan base. I mean, this was a scrimmage and we almost had a full crowd. That is pretty amazing and it felt great."
Head Coach Todd Dagenais on the Knights' first win of 2008, a 3-2 win over Jacksonville:
"I thought that this was a really hard-fought battle. It took a lot of dramatic turns during the match. I thought both teams did a really nice job of adjusting. When we got to the fifth set, it was really nice to see the calmness and the energy on our sideline despite dropping the third and fourth sets. Everyone was calm and confident and knew exactly what they needed to do. We work on 15-point sets almost everyday in practice, and it really showed because we only had two errors in set five. I'm very proud of the team, proud of how they handled the adversity and how they dug a little bit deeper to succeed."
Following the match vs. No. 3 Stanford
Junior Erin Campbell on...
"We just came out with an idea that we had nothing to lose. We made little errors, but the ones we made were just little tweaks. Us being able to compete with them really showed that we are a good team, and that if we fix the errors we can do well."
On what you get from playing a top rated opponent:
"We take the environment. We set a record in attendance tonight, and having people in attendance shows us that we have a lot of support on campus and in the community. Stanford is a great team, I will not take anything away from them, but going out there tonight showed our fans that this is a fun sport to watch."
On direction of the program:
"A word I would use to describe the program right now is fresh. It is a clean slate. We have all of this support from the community. We are taking advantage of it, and are not taking it for granted. We get to start something that everyone can look back on and say that you were on the team that started this program."
Sophomore Janine Williams on...
Coach Todd Dagenais:
"He is definitely passionate. He is the game guy on the court, as he is off. It is just great playing from him on and off the court"
"It was really exciting to feel the support from the fans. It was nice to see standing room only out there. It was a lot of fun tonight, even though we lost.
How the season has just started:
"We have just learned a lot from this match. We will go back and dissect film. We are going to take a lot from this match and fix the little things."
Head Coach Todd Dagenais on...
"I thought that this was an amazing night for our program. To be able to have this many people come here and watch us gives us an opportunity to showcase our team, the new era of our team and help show to people what we are trying to do. Hopefully, we get some of these people will come back. What an honor to be able to introduce and recognize the 1978 national team. I sat there from the very beginning thinking that this is awesome. I have been on the bench for final fours. I have been to the Olympics. There was not a moment I remember being more proud to be apart of something, then I was in the first couple of points in the first game. Where, I saw the team was going to go out there and just play and just fight and not be scared. That is not the same team that played last weekend. I am glad. I think that it was great to see them go out there and play and that was the entire reason we scheduled this match. I wanted them to see what the best looked like. I wanted them to see what Olympians look and play like. Instead of reading about it in volleyball magazine, they get to go out there and play them. From the smiles on their faces, it looks like we have won in a three game sweep. They got a chance to go out there and compete against Foluke (Akinradewo) and Cynthia Barboza and all those kids that are the best in the nation. It was an honor for us to be on the same floor as them and it was an honor for our players to compete with them. It is a proud day for me as a coach and I hope that it was an enjoyable day for this school to be able to have that kind of entertainment."
Preparing for the match:
"We kept our day real key. We never talked about winning and losing. We talked about performing. We talked about executing and rotations. We talked about going up and hitting balls off their hands because we are not going to hit it through him. Most of our kills tonight were balls that went off the block and out of bounds. These are things that we have been working on in practice."
On the record 1,568 fans that attended the match:
"I saw kids sitting outside the door at 3:30. I thought what was going on and I asked what is going on. She states that I am the front of the line. Its 3:30, what do you mean that you are the front of the line? Students were out there as early as 3:30. I went back out there at 5:30, just before doing our final pass and serve, and the line was down past Knightro's and down into the plaza area. I thought wow, this is going to be big." "I heard that anywhere between 600-1000 people were turned away. It was not just students. We had family. We had community members. We had high school kids. It was really nice to see that bunch. Hopefully, they start to bring people back with them. I would love to see crowds of about 1000 every single night here that would put us in the top 30 attendance in the country."
Head Coach Todd Dagenais on entering the fifth set vs. Utah Valley State:
"Coming into the fifth game there was really a kind of calm assurance. They felt like they had been there before and they felt they had been able to win that, which was kind of exciting to see. I think we can attest this win to being in fantastic condition. Playing in as many matches as we have played in as many days as we have played and to play in as many five-setters that we have played to come out on top in three of them is really a tribute to our strength and conditioning and sports medicine staff."
Dagenais on the play of Kathleen Curry on the opening day of the Jayhawk Invitational:
"We put (Kathleen) Curry in at libero in the third game against Oregon and she did outstanding. She was outstanding again against Utah Valley State. For a freshman to be that good in a five-set match is very rare. She has done a great job and she has put herself into position to be an early runner for the starting libero now by her effort. She really calmed down the passing and she increased her range to allow everyone else on the court to take less. She is such a confident passer and player that everybody else responded to her confidence being on the floor. She was solid and made very little mistakes."
Coach Dagenais on the Knights' overall performance in the win over Bethune-Cookman:
"I was really happy with our overall execution tonight because a lot of the things we have been working on we have to take care of on our side of the net first. This week we drilled on serve-receive and we also drilled a lot on being able to execute our middle. That has been something we have been lacking all the way through. As we get into the conference season for us to be successful, we can't be so dependent on our outside hitters. Tonight the instructions were, serve and pass, and execute the middle. Looking at the stats, both Lauren Williams and Jenny Heppert had career type nights. I thought we did a really nice job of getting them the ball and making it successful. Overall, I was very happy with the level of execution. It is not very often that you are able to get all 16 players into a match, and I am pretty proud that we were able to do that tonight."
Lauren Williams on the play of the defense against the Wildcats:
"I just think our defense was incredible. Everyone picked up everything and we were scrappy. We made the plays, and that's what I was happy about. Our passing, setting and attacking was all good and I am proud and happy for us."
Head Coach Todd Dagenais on the play of the team at the FIU Invitational:
"I am very proud of how we ran our offense. Lauren Rosenthal did an amazing job of running our system and made great decisions. Our hitters went up without fear and started swinging at the ball, which is something that we have really needed them to do for a while. Hopefully this weekend becomes a springing board for us heading into the conference season, because things only get more difficult as we move forward."
Lauren Rosenthal on how the team played at the FIU Invitational:
"The team played great this weekend. We were a completely different team than we have been all season. We have grown up a lot and we are working together more than we ever have. Sweeping both teams today felt amazing. It definitely boosted our confidence, brought us together and gave us a great feeling to come off of the weekend."
Head Coach Todd Dagenais on the Knights' first Conference USA win since 2006 at Southern Miss:
"I thought that we played like a maturing team tonight," head coach Todd Dagenais said following the match. "We still have a lot of rough spots, but we were able to overcome those patches by executing. I think that as tired as we are from playing on the road as much as we have played, all that road activity has put us in the position to be comfortable with the start of conference play, actually opening up on the road. I am really proud of how the team handled themselves traveling so much and how we have gone about the process of being a road team. It really paid off tonight in our level of focus and execution."
Head Coach Todd Dagenais on the Knights' stellar play against McNeese State:
We executed the game plan down to the letter for two and a half sets. That first set we were as efficient as any team could be at any level. We were absolutely perfectly efficient in that set. We had a couple errors early and a serving error late, but other than that the team executed everything that the coaching staff had asked them to."
Dagenais on the defense in the match against the Cowgirls:
"Defensively, we had answers for everything that they tried to do to us, especially that first set. We were really digging a lot of balls. That was led by our back row of (Kathleen) Curry, (Melissa) Reinders and (Kristen) Petrasic. Once we were getting a lot of those balls up we did a great job of spreading the ball around in transition."
Dagenais on winning the Southern Miss La Quinta Inn Invitational title with a victory over North Texas:
"It is very difficult to play three matches in a row at a very high level and to hit with the kind of numbers we have been hitting for three matches in a row. But fortunately we were able to keep (North Texas) at bay with our defense today, otherwise this could have been a long match. I'm very proud of the team to go on the road and open conference play with a win (vs. Southern Miss) and sweep the weekend in terms of matches, it is a very important milestone for our new era."
Dagenais on junior Erin Campbell being named the La Quinta Inn Invitational MVP:
"(Erin) Campbell just had an offensive explosion this weekend. She did a nice job of getting us points when we needed to get them. (Being named MVP) is good for her because she made the commitment to be an all-around player and not just a hitter. So for her to play as well as she did all the way around was good for her and very important to us to be successful this weekend."
Dagenais on senior Stephanie Serna being named to the La Quinta Inn Invitational All-Tournament Team:
"(Stephanie) Serna just gives us so many options when she can attack that well from the right side. She takes a lot of the pressure off of the outside hitters and she did it again today. She was second in kills today, but she hit for some gaudy percentages this entire weekend. "
Dagenais on sophomore Lauren Rosenthal being named the program's first C-USA Player of the Week:
"We are very proud that Lauren got recognized for her accomplishments this weekend. We thought that we had potential player of the week performances from Erin Campbell and Jenny Heppert as well, so it's very exciting that we were able to earn our first Conference USA Player of the Week. We recognize that it takes a lot of people for one person to win an award, and this award is something that the team can relish in."
Dagenais on the team's loss at SMU:
"I think this match is going to be a tough one for us to swallow because we felt like we were in control of the match early on. I thought that SMU made some great adjustments. I thought that they really came out with a ton of energy and played like a team should play when they are down 0-2. We tried to adjust based on their adjustments and we just were not able to execute at the same level."
Dagenais on the upset victory over Tulsa:
"Coming here and beating the conference's top team on their court was a really special moment for us. Especially since we struggled at the end at SMU and for us to come back here and play such a quality team and execute our game plan just shows that we are continuing on in the maturing process. At times we show that we can be a really good team and the goal for us is to just be consistent in this type of performance. If we can continue to be more and more consistent then we can start achieving higher-level goals. At SMU, the closer the match got, the tighter we were. Here, the closer the match got the more we played free. For us to play more free, relaxed and confident is really the key to our success."
Dagenais on the team's blocking vs. the Golden Hurricane:
"Our one-on-one blocking was huge today. We worked on blocking all this week and it didn't really show against SMU, but it really showed today. I thought we showed much more discipline and maybe it comes as a result of being just a little bit more focused."
Dagenais on Erin Campbell's play in the five-match victory over Marshall:
"(Campbell) was pretty big for us tonight. You will notice in the fifth set I started her left front. We were going to bring her across the front row and ride her arm. She did a nice job. She had a tough draw having to go against their best blocker for a good part of the night. She handled it very admirably. She is maturing every single match as an outside hitter."
Dagenais on the play of Lauren Rosenthal vs. the Thundering Herd:
"I thought that Rosenthal did a really nice job running the offense. We hit .300 in a conference match and I am telling you what, when you can do that....that is big time. It is good volleyball. If you can hit .300, then you have a chance of winning every single match."
Stephanie Serna on the team playing hard in the fifth set against Marshall:
"We needed to shut (Marshall) down right away (in the fifth set). We were not going to let ourselves have a set-four repeat. We are good at learning our lessons and making changes. Our passes and sets were right on point, and it just worked out for us."
Dagenais on coming back from two sets down to defeat East Carolina:
"The way our team played today was just gutsy. Anybody can be resilient when they are playing well. To be resilient and gutty when you're not playing well and the other team knows it, that is a whole new level of resilience and it borders onto gutsy. That is where we were today."
Serna on getting the set-winning kill in set three to mount the Knights' comeback win:
"I just knew my team deserved the best from me and I wasn't going to let anybody down. Everyone had worked so hard while I was on the bench and I knew when I came in that I needed to join that. I just knew my team deserved the best from me and I wasn't going to give them anything less."
Dagenais on the importance of having volleyball Alumni Weekend:
"Alumni weekend is important in that we recognize all the people along the way that put us in this beautiful gym and the status we are trying to be, and to honor them in their accomplishments. It is also important for the current players to realize that there was something long before them and that there will be something here long after them. They have something to come back to and to show them that they are apart of a bigger family. Again, it is important that we recognize the history of the program because that is why we are where we are today. I feel that Alumni weekend is going to be something, in the future, that we look forward to every year."
Former UCF volleyball head coach Lucy McDaniel at the 1978 National Championship banner dropping ceremony:
"If someone couldn't have won the National Championship with the team I had then they didn't know a darn thing about coaching."
Serna's thoughts on UCF first volleyball alumni weekend:
"I was so excited to see the women who started this, who made it possible for me to be here and who set the foundation for all the success that we're having. If it wasn't for the 1978 team winning the National Championship, who knows where the team would be now? I was so thankful to be able to be in their presence and just tell them thank you and that this is your home and they can come here. It's nice to know when I graduate I can come back and that my last match on this court won't be my last."
Former Knight Aggie Skalski on coming back and playing at UCF in the alumni match:
"Coming here and playing back at UCF feels great. This was so fabulous to have after so many years, especially for our coach (Lucy McDaniel). She has done so much and I am so glad that she was here to see it all."
Dagenais on Lauren Rosenthal being honored as the C-USA Setter of the Week for the second time this season:
"This is a really nice honor for Lauren to be recognized by the conference for the second time this year," head coach Todd Dagenais said. "She continues to run our offense at a very high level in giving us quality swing attempts on nearly every touch. This is a tribute to her for putting in the amount of work she has to be the best that she can be."
Rosenthal on being named the league's setter of the week:
"It feels great to be recognized for something, but I really don't see it as an individual award at all. Everything else has to be working really well around me for me to even be in the ballpark to get an award like that. Passing has to be fantastic for me to run our offense and after I dish out the set someone has to be able to terminate it. Both times that I have gotten this award the passing has been great and the attackers have been great. Everyone has just worked together as a team, so I think that this is more of a team award than an individual award. When I got the first award for the program I was so excited. I didn't even know that they had a conference setter of the week. Once I found out I thought that it was really cool. I thought that it was really crazy that I was the first setter in program history to receive this award, because they have had really great setters here in the past. It was really just an honor to have received that award. We are starting a tradition here. It really is starting this season. Our posters say 'The Future is Now' and it is! We are starting it now. We are winning all these matches and doing well as a team. We are getting recognized and receiving awards. Everything is starting this year and it is only going to get better."
Dagenais on the Knights' four-set win over Memphis at home:
"I think any time you can get a win in conference that is really important. We were able to play well enough to get a win. I think statistically, it was a pretty good battle between two equal teams. Kills were the same. Blocks were the same. Errors were practically the same. I think that we played better at certain points in the match, especially at the end of the second set and certainly in the fourth set. I thought it was a pretty equal match and it was nice to be able to win one of these at home, because in an equal match you are supposed to win those at home, and we were able to do that tonight."
Campbell on the win over the Tigers:
"We worked really hard to protect our home court tonight. This is our home gym and it was something that was given to us this fall. We are going to do everything to protect it."
Serna on falling, 3-1, to UAB in the battle for first place in C-USA:
"Even though we didn't win tonight, I think that we did a really good job in the big picture. The big picture is that we have improved so much. Yes, this was a heartbreaker and they found little ways to chip and tear at our weaknesses and take the game. We still have come great lengths as a team together. Inside and outside, we have made some good improvements and we are just going to learn from this and move on. We have Houston and Rice next weekend and the only thing that we can think about is the future. We do not want to dwell on this kind of a heartbreaking loss."
Dagenais' thoughts on the match vs. the Blazers:
"I was really happy in how we came back in the second set. We decided that we were here to fight. For a team that has not ever been in a match where they were contending for a top spot in a conference, that is an acquired taste. That is not something that you are necessarily born with. It is something that you have to learn. I give our team a lot of credit for coming out of that first set instead of being totally destroyed. They decided to fight and I thought we did a really nice job hitting .324 that second set and we started to run our offense."
Rosenthal on her favorite part about playing volleyball at UCF:
"That's a really hard question because I love everything about UCF volleyball. But I would have to say that my favorite part about it is playing with the girls. Everyone is for each other. It's so nice to know that whenever you do something well, you have 15 other girls that are really excited for you. When you do something not even remotely close to being any type of good, there is also 15 girls standing right behind me helping me to get the next one better. So everyone is supporting each other all the time and that is the best part about UCF volleyball."
Dagenais on the performance of Stephanie Serna against Florida Gulf Coast:
"Stephanie had a great match. She had 19 kills and hit .455, it was a great match-up for her."