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

Gator Volleyball Ranked No.2 in SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Wednesday, the SEC Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll was released. The Florida Gators volleyball team was picked to finish second behind the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. Additionally, sophomore Alexis Stuckey was the only Gator selected for this year’s Preseason All-SEC team. Stuckey is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Year.

Led by head coach Mary Wise, Florida has established themselves as a major force in the conference. Last season, the team won the SEC Championship which marked their 25th conference championship.

A Talented Roster

Stucky, a setter, had an incredible freshman season, playing in all 31 matches during her first year. Last season, she was named SEC Setter of the Week twice, and SEC Freshman of the Week six times. Additionally, she had 68 kills and 206 digs.

The Gators return 10 players from last season’s roster, including Trinity Adams and Elli McKissock. Adams, a defensive specialist, recorded 169 digs last season. Moreover, McKissock, a Libero, recorded double-digit digs in 26 matches.

Tough Schedule

Wise is entering her 33rd season as the head coach of Florida. The team will open their season against Penn State at the Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational on Aug. 25 and they will also play USF in the event. Florida has not had a match with the Nittany Lions since 2013, when they were swept in straight sets.

In the beginning of the season, the Gators have a tough non-conference schedule, with matchups against Minnesota, Stanford and Wisconsin. Florida will travel to Palo Alto to play The Cardinal, while the team will host the Golden Gophers and Badgers at the O’Connell Center.

Wise and the Gators earned their biggest win of the year against Wisconsin last year on the road in front of a record sold out crowd.

The team will open SEC play on Sept. 22 against Auburn and will face Kentucky twice during the regular season.

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