While they got the day off from classes, the Gator volleyball team still did some work this Labor Day as they easily handled the Slovenian Junior National team in Gainesville in straight sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-14).
The Gators were coming off the Nike Big Four Classic, where they were swept by Texas last Friday and lost to Stanford on Saturday.
The exhibition held special meaning for Florida freshman Ziva Recek, who is from Slovenia and played for the Slovenian Junior National team.
The first set was a dead heat as both sides went back and forth, with Florida establishing a narrow lead midway through the set, but hampered by four errors and six service errors.
Down the stretch though, the Gators got into a groove and took the set 25-20. Middle Chloe Mann lead the way hitting .857 through the set with 6 kills.
The second set started much the same way, until Taylor Unroe hit back to back service aces, forcing Slovenia to call a timeout at 10-5 Florida. Ziva Recek took advantage of her former Slovenian teammates early, getting some good hits and two kills in the first ten points, along with leading the set with four kills.
Unroe set the tone for the rest of the set, as Florida notched five serice aces in the set, compared to one in the first set. Slovenia got on a run late, but had a service error to close out the set as Florida went up 2-0 at the half.
Florida was pumped coming out of the break, and showed it on the court. Betsy Smith in particular was a force at the net, with three blocks and two kills through the first 12 points.
After that, Florida looked unstoppable. Taylor Unroe logged back-to-back-to-back service aces, followed by a strong kill by freshman Gabby Mallette. That got the Gators out to a 14-6 lead, from which they never looked back.
Gator head coach Mary Wise said that the game started to come to the Gators.
The only thing that could stop Florida’s offense was their own service and hitting errors, but they closed out the third set and the sweep 25-14. The Gators were a wall at the net, with seven blocks and they also served well with five aces.
Coach Wise says the team wanted to learn from the weekend losses, and brought that to the court today.
The sophomore defensive specialist for the Gators Madison Monserez says that last weekend helped prepare Florida for this game and the upcoming season.
Overall, Coach Wise says that today’s exhibition was for getting this young team some game experience and continuing to improve before conference play.