The Florida Gator volleyball team will start the season with a top 25 match up. The 10th ranked Gators take on number 25 Louisville at the Cardinal Classic in Louisville on Friday.
Players in their Primes
Despite not having home court advantage, Florida’s experienced roster sets the team up for success. The Gators lost just two seniors in Allie Monserez and Taelor Kellum. However, the team returns the rest of the group, highlighted by Rachael Kramer and Allie Gregory.
The 6-foot-8 Kramer’s junior season culminated in All-SEC, All-Region, and All-America honors. She logged a team-high 170 blocks, which translated to a conference-high 1.38 per set. She also picked up an All-SEC Preseason accolade. Allie Gregory will likely re-assume her role as full-time Libero. Last season, she notched a team-high 572 digs thanks to double-figure digs in 32 out of 33 games.
Redshirt junior Holly Carlton will complete her second season at Florida after racking up post-season honors in year one. Also, Paige Hammons is back for her junior season. As a sophomore, she brought offensive firepower, as is evidenced by a team-high in service aces (34), second in digs (249) and third in kills (267). And it looks like her dreams match her on-court production; Hammons says a combination of depth, experience, and more can give the team an elite run.
Last season’s all-star freshman class is now the all-star sophomore class. Former top recruit Thayer Hall comes back with a year after experience after cracking two All-Freshmen teams, an All-Region, and an All-America. In fact, after bringing in seven first-years in 2018, there are no incoming freshmen in 2019.
Rachael Kramer says while she loves freshmen, she admits the team dynamic is stronger with upperclassmen.
Kramer also says the team completed its first pre-season six-on-six since she has been in college.
Florida also welcomes two transfers in T’ara Ceasar (Georgia) and Anaya Martin (Louisville).
A great team can hardly succeed without a great coach. Luckily for the Gators, Mary Wise is one of the best.
Besides the fact that the team is a pre-season top 15 team for the 28th consecutive year, Wise herself is one of just two coaches (and the sole female coach) to receive Coach of the Year honors. Florida also ranks third in all-time program wins.
The team will need her expertise, as it holds one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules. Wise says the Florida-Louisville game is already sold out. Dayton, who the Gators will face on Saturday, will test the team’s endurance. Then, the Gators open at home against reigning national champion Stanford. However, while Wise is excited for elite competition, she knows beginning against top teams will help Florida in the long run.
The match against Louisville is set for Friday and live radio coverage will be on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM at 6:45 pm.