Following another successful season, Florida Gators volleyball head coach Mary Wise has unveiled the 2023 schedule. Wise sat down with Steve Russell to discuss this and other topics.
Playing Both Sides for Volleyball Schedules
After coming off a 25-6 record and an SEC championship in 2022, the Gators Volleyball team looks to find the same success in 2023. Besides conference games, coaches are responsible for scheduling the rest of the group’s games. It’s important for coaches to make sure their team plays high-level competition to prepare for better teams in the postseason. Building a schedule that helps their team be prepared for the postseason but also allows for easy opportunities for more wins is difficult for a lot of coaches. Wise explains the challenge of making a balanced schedule.
Another wrinkle in this year’s season is the fact that no back-to-backs will be played. Coming off two straight seasons where back-to-backs were the norm, it will be interesting to see how this change will affect a lot of teams.
Tough SEC Conference
The Gators have 27 regular season games, including 14 home games at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Throughout the season, Florida will face tough opponents in the SEC with Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee. Florida won’t have any breaks in this year’s season. The future of the SEC looks to become tougher as well. Wise outlines the reason for this.
Freshman Confidence and the Future of NIL in Volleyball
Besides composing the regular season schedule, Wise discussed her thoughts on this year’s team and the explosion of NIL in Volleyball.
Following another SEC championship, the Gators are poised to instill their winning culture into the freshman class. Wise has high praise for the freshman in this year’s team.
Among the incoming freshman, Carly Hendrickson, Alexis Stucky and Emily Canaan stand out the most and are expected to make an immediate impact on the team. In terms of recent accolades, Hendrickson was the Ohio Player of the Year, Stucky was named the 2021 Wyoming 4A Player of the Year and Canaan was the District 5-6A Defensive Player of the Year.
Since the summer of 2021, recruiting potential players for collegiate sports has become more difficult with the introduction of NIL deals. Additionally, NIL deals allow college athletes to market their names, image and likeness for profit. While many colleges may use NIL deals as an incentive for recruiting, Wise explains how she views them.
Only time will tell how NIL deals will be used by Gators athletes in the coming years.
Furthermore, Florida volleyball begins its 2023 campaign down in Tampa at the Road 2 Tampa invitational on August 25 and 26.