The Florida Gator volleyball team returned home Friday to triumphant cheers as they went 2-0 to start their conference season on the road. The cheering didn’t have much reason to stop as the Gators went on to beat the Missouri Tigers 25-22, 26-24, and 25-17. All three sets were hard fought by both sides, but the Gators managed to pull out the sweep.
Florida is now 3-0 in SEC play and 9-2 overall, while the Tigers are 2-1 in conference action and 10-3 overall.
This grind it out win was well timed as the 1992 Gator volleyball team was in attendance, a squad well known for its hard fought comebacks, particularly against the Texas Longhorns in an Elite Eight matchup. The team was honored by a reminiscing coach Mary Wise and got a strong round of applause from the stands afterward.
In this Missouri matchup, the first set showed the Gators were playing what head coach Mary Wise says wasn’t their best volleyball.
Missouri did outblock the Gators five to two in the first set, a trend which would continue well into the game. Florida mostly relied on familiar faces to power through and try and get through the block, as Chloe Mann and Tangerine Wiggs lead the set with four kills. Close behind them was freshman Ziva Recek with three. The service game looked rough, picking up four errors without an ace, but Florida fought through and won the set 25-22.
The second set was an even tougher battle for the Gators. Missouri fought hard not to fall behind 2-0, but that’s eventually what happened as the Gators won the close set 26-24. The block was more active on both sides of the net in the set, but Florida was still outpaced i7.5 to 5. The freshman Recek really flashed her skill in the set, leading the team with five kills, while transfer junior setter Taylor Brauneis lead the team with a hitting percentage of .667. Brauneis says she had to get offensive to help out her team.
Coach Wise says the play of Brauneis play really opened up the floor for the rest of the offense.
The final point of the set was earned on a Simone Antwi block which prevented a possible run in which Wise says really could have in fact drawn out the game.
After the break, the Gators looked to be in another dogfight for the set, even falling behind 10-8. But then the service game came to life as Florida went on a 4-0 run on a Holly Pole serve, and Taylor Unroe hit one of two Florida aces for the night. Their aggressive play and halftime adjustments allowed the Gators to get the relatively easy set and match, 25-17.
Coach Wise says they wanted to spread the ball around in the third set.
Another big adjustment was, as Brauneis put it, forcing the Tigers to play defense, not giving them the easy blocks. This allowed the Gators to outblock Mizzou 2-1 in the set. Even though Florida moved the ball around more in the set, Ziva Recek brought the hammer down most, with a game high seven kills. She lead the team overall with 15.
Keep it tuned all season long for all the action in Gator volleyball on ESPN Radio 850/900 and our sister station Country 103-7 The Gator, including Gators Hotline with Coach Mary Wise every Monday night from 7-8 pm on ESPN Radio 850/900.