The No. 11 Gators volleyball team will be in Tallahassee this evening to take on its heated rival, No. 12 Florida State, in a non-conference matchup.
The Gators (17-2, 11-0 SEC) will face off against the Seminoles (18-2, 10-1 ACC) at 6 p.m. in the Tully Gymnasium. Fans can catch all of the action on ESPN3 and can also tune into 103.7 The Gator.
“We expect Tully Gym to be rockin’ just like it was two years ago,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “We look at this as an NCAA match without the do-or-die.”
This marks the 52nd meeting between the two in-state rivals. The Gators lead the all-time series 35-16 against the Seminoles, including a 28-2 record under Wise. Florida has won its last 21 matches against the Seminoles, a winning streak that stretches back to 1994.
Although both teams face off every season, this marks only the fourth time both teams are ranked in the history of their series.
The Gators remain undefeated in conference play after sweeping Alabama on the road (25-19, 25-16, 25-14) and making a thrilling comeback over Texas A&M after being down 0-2 (14-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23, 15-6).
“To be down on the road 0-2 it would have been really easy to hang our heads and feel sorry yet I think the players also understood that if we could just keep chipping away and make some plays and as the match went on we actually got better,” coach Mary Wise said. “So by the fifth set our side-out efficiency was perfect.”
Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann was dubbed SEC Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Gators this past weekend against the Crimson Tide and the Aggies. Mann’s performance included 32 kills on the weekend and a .566 hitting clip. Mann also put up six blocks against the Aggies.
It was a great weekend for middle blockers as well with senior Betsy Smith notching a new career high against Texas A&M with 15 kills. Smith also recorded seven blocks on the weekend. Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe recorded 35 digs, while junior setter Taylor Brauneis distributed the ball for 92 assists.
“The team played very well to win in three at Alabama and as good as our offense was, Taylor Unroe had 18 digs in that match and really limited Alabama’s offense,” Wise said.
The Seminoles have had a solid season so far only falling to Miami in four sets and then-No.18 Pepperdine in three. Florida State is on a 12-match winning streak after defeating Georgia Tech in five sets and sweeping Clemson this past weekend.
The Gators will have their work cut out for them as the Seminoles hold a 20-match streak in the Tully Gymnasium. Florida State returns five starters from its Final Four team last season.
“They are as every bit of offensively and defensively talented as they were a year ago with the team that went to the Final Four,” Wise said. “They’re so good in their 6-2 offense they run, their three-hitter rotation, they’re tough to stop. It’ll be quite the battle.”
Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.