The first test of 2017 will come early for the UCF volleyball team. After going 23-10 last year, the Knights will kick off the season with the UNC Bears/CSU Rams Classic, where they will face Northern Colorado, Duke, and Colorado State.
UCF’s first game will be on Aug. 25 against Northern Colorado, who went 18-11 in 2016. The Knights are 2-1 all-time against the Bears and earned a win in the teams’ most recent meeting in 2015.
UCF will play two games on Aug. 26, opening the day against Colorado State and playing Duke that night. Both teams went 21-9 in 2016 and did not take on the Knights last year. Colorado State’s lead hitters include Sanja Cizmic and Jasmine Hanna, who docked 335 and 323 kills, respectively. Their defense was led by Cassidy Denny and Katie Oleksak, who recorded 444 and 227 digs, respectively.
Duke’s power house hitter Jordan Tucker recorded 387 kills in 2016 and will return to challenge UCF’s defense.
While all three opponents will be a challenge for UCF, the Knights have several key players that could have a big impact. Offensively, Kia Bright, who finished 2016 with 333 kills and 44 blocks and Alli Sabol, who tallied 247 kills and 54 blocks, will look to lead the Knights.
On defense, UCF can rely on Jordan Pingel, who had 554 digs in 2016, and Jeanne Westney, who finished last season with 126 blocks.