The Florida volleyball team (25-4, 19-1 SEC) opens NCAA Tournament play Friday when it hosts the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (26-9, 14-2 C-USA). The Gators and Golden Hurricanes will play the second match of the Gainesville sub-regional, as College of Charleston and Miami (FL) battle it out in the first round matchup.
Florida and Tulsa meet up for the first time ever on Friday. Despite the new found challenge, Florida junior middle blocker and SEC Player of the Year Chloe Mann says the tournament is all about unknown battles.
One thing Florida does know about the Golden Hurricanes is the play of their outside hitter Tyler Henderson, one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the game. Gator head coach Mary Wise says that Henderson stands out right away.
Despite the tough matchup in the first round, the Gators have experience on their side. The Gators are undefeated in the first round of the tourney under Wise, going 14-0 since the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams in 1998.
But Wise says that the only reason this team is even in the tournament this year is because young players stepped up.
One of those young players is SEC Freshman of the Year Ziva Recek, who says this is a tough team that helped get her the award, and that they will battle anybody on the other side of the net.
If Florida advances, they will take on the winner of Miami/College of Charleston match for the right to go to regional action in Austin, Texas.
You can catch both games right here on ESPN Radio 850/900 with coverage starting at 7:20 on Friday and Saturday (if Gators advance).