No. 2 Seed Florida Sweeps Alabama State In First Round

Florida walked out in their blue and white with all the confidence in the world. Looking like a team on a mission, you wouldn’t think they were making their 27th straight tournament appearance. No, instead they looked like a team possessed. Determined to let no one get in their way this time. To them, Alabama State was not a group of girls looking for the same thing they are. To them, they were an obstacle.

The Hornet coaches watched in awe during pregame warm-ups, one eve mouthing “wow” as they watched the likes of Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder practice what they had been doing all year: dominate. It was no different once the match began

Thrive and Advance

A team like Florida does not enter the NCAA Tournament happy to be there. The fans, as well as the team, expects to win it all. To be able to carry over the momentum from a successful regular season and use it to make a run for the trophy.

Florida made an early exit last year in the second round. It was considered an upset even as a team decimated by injuries ended their season disappointed. This year, they are healthy and will not be satisfied with a similar result. Mary Wise spoke after the game how the sentiment for the team is not to just survive and advance but to thrive and advance. To continue to play hard and to win.

The Gators made a nice first step in their tournament journey begins. Eight different players registered a kill with Shainah Joseph leading the team with 9 kills. The Gators did not look to have one player dominate, but the team as a whole. Mary Wise had a constant rotation of players that worked to perfection. Redshirt Freshman Mia Sokolowski took advantage of the minutes she was given. Sinking 4 kills on nine shots, including two in a row to seal the second set for the Gators. Everyone who played stepped up when the team needed them.

No Mercy

The Nation’s best defense once again proved why they are the best. Sporting a .132 opponent hitting percentage, there was little doubt of Florida’s abilities defensively. If there were any doubters before tonight, there is not now. Holding Alabama State to a -.014% for the match, there was little the Hornets could do. 32 team digs and 5 blocks gave Florida’s offense more time to set up and send down big spikes.

Mary Wise commented how they were able to hold down a good Hornet offense.

Quick Turnaround for The Hurricanes

In early September, Hurricane Irma swept across Florida. The Gator volleyball team was set to play three matches that weekend but the games were canceled as a result of the hurricane. This time, however, no games will be canceled as a hurricane will once again come to Gainesville.

Miami played their game right before Florida played theirs in Exactech Arena. They took the match in four sets against the College of Charleston and looked good doing it.

Elizaveta Lukianova and Olga Strantzali will be players to look out for tomorrow as they both had 14 kills in their win. This will be yet another quality test for the strong Florida defense. Mary Wise talked about how physical they are and how Florida will need to match that on Friday.

Senior leader Rhamat Alhassan knows that if the team looks too far ahead, they could overlook teams and leave earlier than they hope. Alhassan stresses taking one game at a time and not get ahead of themselves. We will see Friday at 7 p.m. at the O’Connell Center.

About Dylan Rudolph

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