Dominant. Commanding. Consistently the best hitter on the court over a four-game weekend tournament.
These are some of the things UCF volleyball head coach Todd Dagenais could have said but didn't for fear that he would have been exaggerating about the play of his sophomore outside hitter Jale Hervey.
"Anything I would say would sound like hyperbole or something," Dagenais said. "Jale was sick, she was really good. She's comfortable, she's confident, she's fitting into her role, she doesn't need to have the ball every time, but when it gets to her she takes care of it."
What isn't hyperbole is 60 kills — 17 more than anyone else on the team — a .481 attack percentage and seven aces, also the most on the team.
Thanks in no small part to Hervey, UCF (4-0) ended up winning the season-opening tournament without dropping a single set. She was one of four Knights named to the all-tournament team, and she was also named tournament MVP.
"I am so pleased and I am so proud of her to be tournament MVP," said Dagenais. "I mean honest to goodness, I don't know who's going to be conference player of the week, but any outside hitter that hits .500 on a four-match weekend; if that's not a conference player of the week, I don't know what is."
Four games into the season, Hervey already has 60 kills, all-tournament honors and perhaps an AAC Player of the Week Award coming. And those were also Hervey's first four games for UCF.
The sophomore spent last season at Middle Tennessee State, where she played in all of the team's 114 sets on the year and tallied 342 kills. At the end of the season she was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.
"I could not be more proud of Jale and what she's brought to our team," Dagenais said, "the culture and the humbleness and the sweetness with which she does it."
When off the court, Hervey shows the humbleness that Dagenais mentioned. After easily the best weekend of her collegiate career, she's quick to sing the praises not of herself, but of her whole team.
"Everybody is a great hitter," Hervey said. "I feel like we're all very aggressive so [the other team] doesn't sit on one hitter, they don't know who to block or who to defend."
While this weekend it was she who was capitalizing on the most opportunities, Hervey thinks that that was at least part circumstance. She believes that for any game, set or match, it could be any one of the team's hitters stepping up.
"We spread the ball around a lot," Hervey said "We give all our hitters an equal opportunity."
Dagenais agrees with Hervey that they have many different offensive threats, but he sees it as a scenario where they all have different specialties.
"Kia [Bright] is going to go up there and she's going to be our enforcer, she's the one that's going to go up and fly over the top of everybody," Dagenais said. "DeLaina [Sarden] is going to find her space and she's going get her kills that way. [Kaye-Alese Green] is going to score when they leave things open."
Bright and Sarden were second and third on the team in kills, with 43 and 37, respectively. Both were also named to the all-tournament team along with Hervey. Green had 22 kills and hit .514, the best on the team.
Dana Faught, a junior for UCF, had 78 assists over the weekend, the second-most on the team. She couldn't agree more with Hervey and Dagenais about the depth that UCF has on offense.
"From a setter's standpoint I have so many options," Faught said. "We have so many weapons coming from the middle, the right side, the outside, I can kind of just pick and choose who I want to give the ball to."
So while it was Hervey in the opening weekend's tournament with the dominant play, no one knows who it could be next weekend when the team travels to Kent State for the K-State Invitational.
Having so many offensive options is a weapon that the Knights will have in their back pocket all season, and it's a weapon that they are going to need to use if they want to have a deep postseason run.