Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the second time in program history, Florida volleyball will play for the NCAA Championship, as it defeated third-seeded Stanford, 3-2, Thursday night inside the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Gators also played in the NCAA Championship match in 2003, falling in four sets to Southern California.
Florida took the first two sets, but the Cardinal bounced back with dominant flashes to win the next two.
Then four-time All-American Rhamat Alhassan took control and nixed the Stanford rally. Alhassan tallied three kills and a pair of blocks to give the Gators a 9-4 lead in the fifth frame. Stanford narrowed the deficit to 11-9, but a combo block from sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey and All-American middle blocker Rachael Kramer, followed by a kill from All-America Second Team outside hitter Carli Snyder and a Stanford attack error gave Florida match point. Kramer went with an off-speed attack for the winner.
And Florida’s defense, ranked second nationally in opponent hitting efficiency, came up huge in the fifth set, holding the Cardinal’s third-ranked offense to an -.040 hitting percentage.
Alhassan led the Gators with a team-high 17 kills and four blocks, registering a .517 clip. Snyder was her usual all-around self, stuffing the stat sheet with 16 kills, nine digs, three service aces, two assists and two blocks. Joseph added 11 kills, while Kramer had a team-high five blocks.
Two-time All-America Honorable Mention libero Caroline Knop led the back row with 20 digs.
First serve between Florida and fifth-seeded Nebraska is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will provide television coverage, while Tom Collett and Josh Crow will have the radio call for ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM WRUF.
· The Gators’ all-time NCAA Tournament record rises to 71-27 (.724) and to 24-6 overall as an overall top-four seed
· Mary Wise, already the only Division I head coach in history to lead a team to the NCAA Championship, will coach in her second national title match
· Wise improves to 70-26 (.729) in NCAA Tournament matches
· Florida has its first 30-win season since 2006, when it went 30-3 and was eliminated in the NCAA Regional Semifinals
· This is the 15th time in program history the Gators won at least 30 matches, and it is the 13th time they have done so under Wise
· Wise’s 70 all-time NCAA Tournament victories remain the seventh-most in Division I history
· Florida’s 71 all-time NCAA Tournament wins remain the eighth-most in Division I history
· The Gators’ all-time record against Stanford improves to 5-6, and it is the their first win against the Cardinal in an NCAA Tournament match
· Rhamat Alhassan now has 189 total blocks this season, which is tied for the second-highest total in program history
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP BROADCAST INFORMATION | Match Notes
Saturday, Dec. 16 vs. No. 5 Nebraska | 9 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN2 | Streaming: Watch ESPN [Paul Sunderland, Karch Kiraly] | Radio: Audio Stream [Tom Collett, Josh Crow] (also available via ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM WRUF) | Live Stats