Florida Gators volleyball moves to the Elite 8

Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The overall No. 2 seeded Gators dropped the opening set for the fourth time in their last eight outings, but like the previous three they shook it off and roared back to a 3-1 victory, this time fending off 15th-seeded UCLA to reach the program’s 16th NCAA Regional Championship match.

The Gators will face either seventh-seeded Minnesota or 10th-seeded USC Saturday at 6 p.m. ET inside Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center. ESPNU will televise the match, while Tom Collett and Josh Crow will have the radio call on ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM WRUF.

All-session and single-match general admission tickets for the Gainesville Regional-which is the only one featuring four national seeds-are still available (follow this link for purchasing). Students gain admission to all matches FREE OF CHARGE with a valid Gator1 ID.

Three-time All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan logged her second double-double of the season and eighth of her career, tallying 10 kills and 10 blocks. It was the second 10-block outing of the season for Alhassan.

Fellow senior and two-time All-SEC selection Carli Snyder amassed a match-high 18 kills and just two errors for a .320 hitting percentage. The Macomb, Mich., native added 15 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Snyder also had three service aces and a pair of block assists to total 22 points.

Right behind those two statistically were All-SEC right side Shainah Joseph and two-time All-SEC libero Caroline Knop, who finished with 10 kills and a team-high 18 digs, respectively. Sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey led the Gators in assists (21) for only the third time this season, and she tied her career high with eight blocks.

Defensively, the Gators were stellar in the second and third sets, holding UCLA to .065 and -.025 hitting percentages. Florida’s block, one of the best in the nation, came alive in the final three sets. Of the Gators’ 14 blocks Friday, 12 came in the final three sets, including a seven-block effort in the third set.

NOTABLES

* Florida held an top-20 opponent under a .160 hitting percentage for the fifth time this season

o In records dating back to 1998, the 2003 Gators are the only other team in school history to hold five top-20 opponents under that mark

o Prior to this year, Florida accomplished that feat a total of three times from 2008-16

* The Gators held UCLA to its lowest hitting percentage since Oct. 29, when the Bruins hit .121 at No. 14 Washington

* Florida held UCLA to its fourth-lowest hitting percentage of the season (.124)

* The Gators’ 14 blocks were their highest total in an NCAA Tournament match since they had 16 in the 2014 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Illinois

* Florida’s 11 hitting errors were its third-lowest total in a four-set match this season, and that number follows its season-low of 10 in a four-set win over Miami last Friday

* After doing so in the second and third sets Friday, Florida has held its opponents under a .100 hitting percentage in 40 of 102 sets this season (38.5 percent)

* The Gators’ out-dug the No. 31-ranked team in the nation in digs per set, 77-75

* Rhamat Alhassan is the only player in program history to record 10-plus total blocks in multiple NCAA Tournament matches (she also had 10 in the 2014 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Illinois)

* Alhassan has 24 kills and one error on 44 swings (.523) in Florida’s three NCAA Tournament matches

* Carli Snyder recorded at least three service aces for the eighth time in her career (all eight of those performances have come this season)

* Snyder recorded 20-plus points for the sixth time this season and eighth time in her career

* Allie Gregory matched her career high in digs (14) for a third time

* Shainah Joseph is hitting .429 with 153 kills in Florida’s last 13 matches (46 sets)

* Florida improved its all-time record against UCLA to 4-3, and this was the first match in the series to go more than three sets

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.