Gabrielle Essix celebrates after a point in the Gator volleyball team's win over VCU on Saturday. Photo from Sydney Calle.

Gator Volleyball Looks to Take Down Defending Champ Wisconsin

A chance to take down the champs – always exciting in college athletics. The Gator volleyball team has that chance Friday night, as they’re in Madison to face the 4th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.

A Historic Night

While there’s no extra motivation needed for either squad, Friday night’s game is particularly special.

On the back of a national title and four straight Big Ten titles, Wisconsin volleyball is on the big stage. Friday night, they’ll play in the Kohl Center – the school’s basketball arena. It’s the first volleyball match in the venue since the 1998 national title match.

Excitement’s extremely high in Madison for a chance to pack the arena and push for a regular season volleyball attendance record.

Strong Start for Gator Volleyball

After losing to top-ranked Louisville in the round of 16 in last season’s NCAA tournament, Florida’s fared pretty well against a strong slate this fall.

They come into Friday night’s big game ranked 16th in the nation, with a 7-2 record.

The two losses came against 6th-ranked Minnesota and 9th-ranked Stanford before rattling off 4 straight wins heading into the Wisconsin match.


Florida’s last outing before hitting the road was a commanding 3-0 win over rival FSU.

The Wisconsin match is Florida’s last before starting SEC play, and certainly a chance to make a big splash on the national stage.

The Champs

It’s been quite the stretch for the girls in Madison.

Volleyball is no doubt the school’s best sports program at this moment in time – with three straight Final Fours, four straight conference titles and, of course, the national title.


The Badgers come into this game ranked 4th nationally, as a loss to Baylor is the one blemish on their resume.

Head coach Kelly Sheffield is in his 10th season with the program, and holds a winning percentage .817 with the Badgers. In comparison, Mary Wise‘s winning percentage through 32 seasons with the Gator Volleyball program is .880.

The historic match will be televised by the Big Ten Network and begins at 8:30 ET Friday night.

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