Florida Gators volleyball moves to the NCAA second round

Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In the words of their head coach, the overall No. 2 seeded Gators (26-1) were “the best versions of themselves” in Thursday night’s NCAA First Round sweep of Alabama State (28-11). Florida faces Miami in the NCAA Second Round Friday night inside Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Florida posted a season-high .446 hitting percentage, tallying 40 kills and a season-low seven errors on 74 swings. It marked the Gators’ most efficient match since they hit .464 against Alabama State in last year’s NCAA First Round. Behind the service line, Florida logged a season-high 11 aces, the third-highest total in an NCAA Tournament match in program history. The only two matches in which the Gators had more aces both went five sets.

Defensively, the Gators smothered the Hornets, holding them to a -.014 clip. It is the third time this year Florida held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage. UF’s defense also yielded a season-low 17 kills and 19.0 total points.

All-SEC right side Shainah Joseph finished with a match-high nine kills and hit .533, while two-time All-SEC outside hitter Carli Snyder had eight kills, three assists, three service aces, six digs, and hit .353 with a match-high 11.5 points. Three-time All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan was the most efficient Gator, registering a .714 clip (five kills, zero errors, seven attempts).

Freshman outside hitter Paige Hammons tied her career high with four service aces. It is the 16th time in program history a Gator logged four-plus service aces in an NCAA Tournament match.

· After doing so in all three sets Thursday night, Florida has held its opponents under a .100 hitting percentage in 37 of 94 sets this season (39.4 percent)
· The Gators’ 11 aces were their highest total in a match since posting 11 in a road sweep of Georgia on Oct. 29, 2014
· Six different Gators finished with a service ace
· Florida has 10-plus service aces in four matches this year, the first time it has accomplished that feat in a season since 2007
· Carli Snyder finished with at least three service aces for the seventh time in her career—all of those matches have come in 2017
· Shainah Joseph is hitting .420 with 124 kills in Florida’s last 11 matches (38 sets)
· Florida improved its all-time record against Alabama State to 3-0, with all three wins coming in NCAA Tournament play

The Gators face Miami in the NCAA Second Round. First serve in the O’Dome is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. SEC Network +, via Watch ESPN, will provide live streaming, and the audio broadcast will air on the radio airwaves of ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM.

Miami | 22-5 overall, 15-5 Atlantic Coast Conference (t-3rd)
· Florida leads: 1-0 (1-0 under Mary Wise)
· 3-set: 0-0 | 4-set: 1-0 | 5-set: 0-0
· Home: 1-0 | Away: 0-0 | Neutral: 0-0
· NCAA Tournament series: Florida leads, 1-0
· Last Time Out: Dec. 6, 2014 in Gainesville –> W, 3-1 (13-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21)
· Notable: Eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in last nine seasons (only advanced past NCAA First Round twice in previous seven appearances)
· Top Player: Olga Strantzali, senior, outside hitter (tied for 13th nationally in points per set)

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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.