The fourth-ranked Gators return to Exactech Arena for the first time this season, to take their home court against the Crimson Tide in a two-match series. Florida Volleyball has not taken their home court since December 6 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The long-awaited extended drought due to COVID-19 is over. The Gators are coming home with two wins already under their belt. The Gators opened their season last weekend in Auburn where they beat the Tigers 3-0 in both matches.
Getting the Season Under Way:
Junior setter Marlie Monserez is a key part of the Gators lineup this season. In the wins against Auburn, the junior had a combined 63 assist in the two matches.
“It was a lot different, but still so fun. We are so excited to get out there and play again,” she said about the first game of the season.
Monserez said her and her teammates learned a lot about their squad in their first trip to Auburn.” We can grow really fast, I think things that we said we were going to work on in the first game really changed in the second game,” she said. The Gators will look to continue to grow to see improvements moving into this weekend series over Alabama.
But more than anything, the Gators are ready to take their home court for the first time. ” We are all so excited, it’s really surreal,” she said. Most importantly, they are excited about the atmosphere and to be surrounded by fans, friends, and family. Exactech Arena will have a capacity of 2,500 spectators in Friday and Saturday’s matches to comply with physical distancing requirements.
How The Gators are Getting Better:
Head Coach Mary Wise is entering her 30th year with Florida Volleyball is still focused on getting better. Similar to her star setter Monserez, Coach Wise had many takeaways from the team’s first outing and was quick to note areas of improvement for her team.
“We are working on a faster offense,” Wise said. Wise referenced Monserez ability to control the ball and her growth in the past year has been crucial to picking up the pace of the Gators game.
Wise, however, did note some major positives for Florida to capitalize on and build on moving forward. “We are a quicker team, especially one rotation in particular where it is Paula Cerame, T’ara Ceasar and Elli McKissock on the back row and I don’t know in my career if we had ever had a rotation that has that type of quickness in it.”
The Gators hold a 47-0 advantage over the Crimson Tide, including a 45-0 record for the Gators with Wise at the helm. Florida will take the court on Friday with the matchup set at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network, and on Saturday at 3 p.m. to close out the two-match series.