After getting started 45 minutes late because of a five set battle between FIU and Florida Gulf Coast, the Gator volleyball team wasted no time against Florida A&M, getting a clean sweep 3-0 (25-11, 25-11, 25-14).
The Gator freshmen set the tone throughout the game today. This team has seven freshmen, and they play key roles with the departure of players like Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy.
First year player Ziva Recek lead the team in kills with 12, and Berkley Whaley also had a very strong outing, as she records eight kills alongside three service aces. One of those kills in the third set was a backcourt shot that still managed to blow through the block and set up match point for the Gators.
Another new player, Taylor Brauneis (transfer from Louisville) ran the floor very efficiently for the Gators, notching 21 assists on the day. Overall, the new 5-1 offense looked strong with strong setting from Brauneis and good communication with the Gator hitters.
The first set was dominated by Junior Chloe Mann, with five kills and a block. She was an absolute wall at the net, as this Gator squad seemingly let nothing into the backcourt. Florida easily took the first set 25-11.
Another Gator veteran provided some leadership in the second set as Tangerine Wiggs provided a spark off the bench, recording a couple kills and blasting the ball into the A&M backcourt. She powered Florida through the second set as they took it 25-11, with most of A&M’s points coming late in the set.
In the third set, freshman Dana Backlund came in relief of Brauneis. After the tenth point, Florida really got on a roll as they got used to the new flow of Backlund at setter, and the offense started rolling. Other than a couple unforced errors, the Gators looked good in the final set, and closed it out 25-14.
A couple other players to note, Taylor Unroe played the libero (essentially the defensive roleplayer) well, recording 12 digs, and Simone Antwi hit the ball hard, notching four kills, along with tying for a team high three aces.