Florida and head coach Mary Wise knew it was going to be a tough battle. Florida had played Texas earlier in the season, being swept. But since then, the Gators have enjoyed what senior Sundai Weston called a dream season. Even with the momentum, however, Florida fell to the Longhorns 25-22, 26-24, 25-17 Friday in the NCAA Tournament, ending Florida’s season.
The turning point came in the second set as both teams battled it out, Florida trying to even it up, Texas trying to get out ahead. The Gators almost made it, up 24-22, but the Longhorns wouln’t be denied as they scored four straight to take the second, heading into the locker room up 2-0 at the half.
Gator coach Mary Wise says the second game really showed the kind of closing ability that makes Texas so good.
The play of Chloe Mann offensively did serve as a bright spot for the Gators during the Longhorn attack. The SEC Player of the Year hit .500 on the night, but that wasn’t enough to outduel Texas’ elite outside hitter Bailey Webster, who notched 15 kills on the night.
Overall, while the Longhorns were zoning in for the kill, Wise says the Gators were having a lot of calls not go their way.
So the magical run of the volleyball team that overcame youth, injury (Noami Santos-Lamb tore her ACL and missed the whole season), and a parity driven league is over. Wise says the toughest part is seeing the seniors leave.
But the Gators return Mann, SEC Freshman of the Year Ziva Recek, and a host of other talented players that give the team hope for next season.