Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
TAMPA, Fla. – The No. 11 Florida volleyball team heads south to Tampa to kick off the 2023 campaign with the Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational this weekend.
The Gators are set to face No. 8 Penn State on Friday night at Amalie Arena, followed by a Saturday matchup against host South Florida at the Yuengling Center. Both matches are set to begin at 8 p.m.
Both Friday and Saturday’s matches can be watched on ESPN+ with Ryan Urquhart and Missy Whittemore on the call.
The matches can also be heard on the airways of ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM/850 AM, with the three-person crew of Tom Collett, Nick Cheronis and Skyler Lebron on the call.
Florida has faced both Penn State and South Florida numerous times in the history of the program, with the Gators holding the 29-3 lead over the Bulls. The Nittany Lions have the edge over UF in the series, with Penn State holding the 8-3 lead.
Five Things to Know About the 2023 Gators
- Streaking in the Top-15. Florida debuted at No. 11 in the AVCA Division I Coaches’ Poll on Aug. 15, marking the 32nd consecutive season the Gators are a preseason Top-15 team. The streak runs all the way back to 1992, and only Nebraska boasts a longer active streak.
- Gators in the SEC. After claiming a share of the 2022 SEC Champions, the 2023 Gators were picked to finish second in the conference, just behind Kentucky for first place. The Gators had one member named to the Preseason All-SEC Team: Alexis Stucky. She is the reigning AVCA Southeast Freshman of the Year, along with the title of SEC Freshman of the Year. The Laramie, Wyo. native earned a spot on the All-SEC team and All-Freshman team a season ago.
- Fresh Faces. Florida welcomes six newcomers to the 2023 roster in four freshmen and two transfers. The freshmen class consists of Gaby Cornier, Madi Gravlee, Kira Hutson and Kennedy Martin. Combined, they bring in numerous accolades, national team experience and Under Armour All-American honors. The two transfers – Anna Dixon (Missouri) and Kennedy Muff (Flagler) – bring in AVCA All-America honors, All-Conference honors and a plethora of experience to the court.
- Summer with National Teams. Gabrielle Essix and Alexis Stucky had the opportunity to win gold with Team USA at the U21 Pan America Games this summer.
- Among the Elite. Mary Wise is one of two coaches to have been named AVCA Coach of the Year at least three times in their career (Russ Rose, Penn State, five times). Since Wise took over the program in 1991, no other team in the nation has won as many matches, with the Gators sitting at 945. Penn State has won 944 with the next closest being Nebraska at 909. Florida sits third all-time in program wins since 1984 with 1,101. That trails only Penn State and Nebraska for the most in the nation.
Milestones to Watch
- Elli McKissock currently sits ninth in Florida’s record books in career digs with 1,222. She’s 98 digs away from tying Aury Cruz for eighth overall
- McKissock is also 37th in program history in career aces with 81. She needs just 23 aces to break into the Top-20 all-time
- Alexis Stucky ranks 17th in Florida’s record books after her freshman season, sitting with 1,194 assists. She is 1,533 assists away from cracking into the Top-10. Elli McKissock is 27th in program history in assists, sitting at 309 from the libero position
Series Information – No. 11 Florida vs. No. 8 Penn State
Nittany Lions | 2022 season synopsis: 26-8, 13-7 Big Ten
- This is the 12th meeting between the Gators and the Nittany Lions
- Florida trails 3-8 (3-5 under Mary Wise)
- 3-set: 1-4 | 4-set: 0-3 | 5-set: 2-1
- Home: 1-5 | Away: 0-1 | Neutral: 2-2
- Last Time Out: Sept. 8, 2013 | Austin, Texas | L, 0-3 (18-25, 17-25, 20-25)
Series Information – No. 11 Florida at South Florida
Bulls | 2022 season synopsis: 10-20, 4-14 AAC
- This is the 33rd meeting between the Gators and the Bulls
- Florida leads 29-3 (17-0 under Mary Wise)
- 3-set: 18-1 | 4-set: 10-1 | 5-set: 1-1
- Home: 16-0 | Away: 10-1 | Neutral: 3-2
- Last Time Out: Sept. 13, 2019 | Gainesville, Fla. | W, 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 25-13)