The Gators looked surprised early by the effective passing and execution from the Dolphins, making the first set a free-for-all midway through. After the match, Florida head coach Mary Wise said she knew it would be a hard-fought match as soon as she saw the team they were playing.
“As soon as we saw the draw, even before we watch them on video, our prediction was that they were going to be a reflection of their coaching staff,” Wise said. “One of the best NCAA matches we’ve had in terms of excitement and high-level of play was against Michelle Collier’s (JU’s head coach) South Florida team when she was a senior.”
But, as the Gators prevailed in that first set, the next two were almost routine. Florida senior hitter Chloe Mann led the way with 15 kills and a .700 kill percentage. When asked about the rest of the tournament, she said her team is just trying to take it one game at a time.
“We’re taking it one game at a time. This is one of –hopefully — six matches that we’re going to play,” Mann said. “I think we all did a really good job of coming out strong in the first set and maintaining that all three sets.”
Gabby Mallette was held out of the match because of a minor injury in practice, but will return tomorrow in Florida’s second round match against FSU. As for the Seminoles, they swept their opponent (Georgia Southern) in the early match of the day. In Florida’s only meeting with Florida State this season, the Gators swept the Seminoles in the O’Connell Center on September 17th.
Gator sophomore hitter Simone Antwi knows that match was a long time ago, and doesn’t expect the same type of FSU team, but hopes for the same result.
“We’re just looking at it as “it’s tournament time”. Teams are different and they’re playing different,” Antwi said. “We’re going to watch film, break them down and play them just like we’ve always played them; hard.
That game is set to tip off in the O-Dome at 7:00 pm with the winner advancing to the sweet 16 and the loser writing the final chapter of their season. ESPN 850 WRUF has live coverage starting at 6:50pm.
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