Sunshine Invitational
The volleyball team huddles around each other in the team's loss against Minnesota on September 4. Photo from @GatorsVB on Twitter.

Gator Volleyball Set for Sunshine Invitational

The No.16 Florida volleyball team will be back in Exactech Arena this weekend as they host the Sunshine Invitational. The Gators welcome Georgia Southern, Florida Gulf Coast and Virginia Commonwealth.

Friday, Florida is set to take on Georgia Southern at 10 a.m. and Florida Gulf Coast at 7:30 p.m. The final game of the invitational will be against VCU on Saturday at 4 p.m.

So Far This Season

The Gators started out the season 3-0 but have dropped their last two matches. Both losses have come at the hands of ranked teams, No. 12 Stanford and No. 4 Minnesota. Florida is 5-0 against the field, (3-0 vs. Georgia Southern, 2-0 vs. FGCU) and they look to continue this record as they begin their matches Friday morning.

The team holds a top-25 hitting percentage at .291 percent and are led offensively by Merritt Beason and Marina Markova. Each have posted 60-plus kills, thus far. Markova ranks ninth in the SEC in overall hitting percentage (.395), and Beason ranks sixth in the conference in service aces with 11. On net defense, the Gators are led by Bre Kelley, who ranks ninth in the SEC with 25 total blocks.

The Matchups

The first opponent the Gators take on is Georgia Southern. The Eagles have won five games in a row after dropping their first game of the season to Stetson. They are coming off a 3-0 weekend at the Tussle in the Triad where setter Callaway Cason was named the Tournament MVP.

Their next matchup is against FGCU. The Eagles have dropped their last two matches after starting the season 4-0 with their most recent loss coming to Arkansas. FGCU is led by the A-SUN Preseason Player of the Year, Erin Shomaker. Shomaker has recorded a team-leading 86 kills this season.

VCU is 3-3 on the year and took Michigan State to a five-set battle on Saturday. The Rams are led by interim head coach Kevin Maureen Campbell after Jody Rogers, the winningest coach in VCU history, stepped down just before the start of the season.


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