The No. 7 Florida Gators volleyball team will take on No. 10 Texas in the second game of the Nike Big Four Classic in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday at 11 p.m., est.
The weekend tournament will begin at Stanford University with the four-time defending national champions, No. 2 Penn State, taking on No. 3 Stanford, with the Gators playing the winner of the matchup on Saturday.
The Gators (6-1) are coming off of their first loss of the season, breaking their three- sweep game-winning streak losing 3-2 to No. 17 Iowa State (19-25, 27-29, 25-17, 25-18, 14-16).
Even though it was Florida’s first loss, they showed improvement and growth throughout the match.
Senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel led the Gators with 16 kills and junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs had career-high 14 kills, three blocks and two digs.
Junior middle blocker Betsy Smith also hit her career-high with seven kills and seven blocks against the Cyclones.
Senior setter/right-side hitter Kelly Murphy had an impressive game as always with a huge 21 digs, nine kills and seven blocks.
Senior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson added 10 kills, four blocks and seven digs along with senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell adding nine kills, two block and seven digs.
Freshman libero Taylor Unroe was named SEC Freshman Player of the Week for her performance against the No. 25 Florida State Seminoles and Jacksonville, FAU and Clemson in the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational.
Florida head coach Mary Wise plans on this tournament providing her team with challenges and helping them learn where they need to grow and improve.
“We didn’t schedule our way to win,” Wise said. “We get better by playing these types of teams.”
The Texas Longhorns have a .500 record, at 2-2 thus far into the season. Texas is led by senior middle blocker Rachael Adams, who was named AVCA All-American. Freshman middle blocker Khat Bell also has a huge impact on the Longhorns as she was named preseason freshman of the year.
The Cardinal is undefeated thus far in the season on a 4-0 winning spree. Junior setter Karissa Cook just nabbed the title of the Pac-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week. She was also selected to the all-tournament team in the Stanford Invitational. Cook leads the conference with 11.57 assists per set and ranks fifth with 4.21 digs per set.
The Nittany Lions enter the tournament with a 4-1 record. Four starters from the 2010 National Championship team will return, including AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-American Deja McClendon and the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team member Kristin Carpenter.
Joining them is freshman setter/outside hitter Micha Hancock was named the MVP of the Pittsburgh Invitational last weekend. Penn State was selected as the preseason conference favorite.