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Friday September 21, 2012 UF's 1992 Volleyball Team to Celebrate Program's First Final Four Berth Tonight at O'Dome

Updated: 11:54am, September 21

Gainesville Sun

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The goose bumps pop up when Missy Whittemore thinks back to that night 20 years ago at the O'Connell Center.

Whittemore was Missy Aggert in those days, a freshman setter on Florida's volleyball team and a long way from her hometown of Jacksonville, Ill.  On Dec. 11, 1992, Aggert was inside the O'Dome for one of the building's most memorable sporting events.

The Gators were playing Texas in the NCAA South Regional Championship. A berth to the Final Four was on the line. The Gators trailed in the first game when All-American outside hitter Gudi Staub, the team's most dangerous player, had to leave the court with an injured ankle.

A hush came over the arena.

"She was not only a good volleyball player but an entertainer,'' Whittemore said. "We had great, great crowds. They loved to come and watch her."

With Staub injured, Florida's bid to earn the program's first Final Four berth dropped significantly.

Florida lost the first game. But before the second game started, Staub returned to the court with her injured ankle heavily taped.

The rest is history as they say.

"I don't know if I've ever been involved in a match with more drama,'' Gators coach Mary Wise told reporters afterward. "Because of what was at stake, this match gets a 10 for excitement level."

Whittemore later married a UCF football player from Gainesville and stayed in town after college. She remains close to the volleyball program as the team's radio analyst.

The moment when Staub walked back onto the court is something she will never forget.

"When she came back it was like 'Rocky.' Fans were on their feet cheering. As soon as she entered the gym, it was like, 'We can do it.' They really appreciated her ability,'' Whittemore said. "She really could dominate a match and people realized it."

It took Staub a little while to warm up -- Florida lost the second game too -- but with their season on the line, the Gators rallied to win three consecutive games and advance to the Final Four in Albuquerque, N.M.

Mary Wise

It was only Wise's second season. She is now in her 22nd year leading the program and tonight at the O'Dome Wise will be joined by several players from that 1992 team that made UF volleyball history.

The Gainesville Sun wrote 20 years ago "Florida's thrilling win over Texas was one of the most dramatic sports events in Gainesville this year."

The Gators will celebrate the victory and the memorable Final Four run one more time tonight.

"If you look at the program at the time, there was no established tradition,'' said Aycan Gokberk Kara, a freshman in '92 who later developed into an All-American. "We didn't come to UF because it was great. We came to start something. I don't think we realized at the time what a big deal it was for the university, for the program."

Once the Gators got to Albuquerque, No. 1-ranked UCLA awaited. Florida's only loss up to that point was to the Bruins in a match earlier in the season.

Wise realized the odds were stacked against her team, a group she took over after a 15-16 record two years earlier and molded into her own.

Nearly 10 years earlier in "The Pit,'' heavy underdog N.C. State upset Houston to win the NCAA men's basketball championship. Wise joked that the first thing she planned to do in Albuquerque was to contact then-Wolfpack head coach Jim Valvano.

"We want to know where they stayed, which restaurants they ate at, which locker room they had,'' Wise said. "We know this is the site of one of college athletics' greatest upsets. We'd like to be second in that line."

It wasn't meant to be as UCLA ended Florida's dream season. The loss couldn't erase the memories of that breakout season.

The Gators are now considered one of the country's elite programs.

Several players from that team will be back in Gainesville this weekend to take a trip down memory lane, some coming from as far as California for the special reunion. The team will also be recognized at Saturday's football game against Kentucky.

It will be another chance for Florida fans to show their appreciation for players like Meg Fitzgerald, Aycan Gokberk, Suzanne Hughes, Nikki Vogt, Heidi Anderson and Kim Hale.

Fan favorite Staub couldn't make it. After college, she returned to her native Germany. She will definitely be there in spirit.

Whittemore said the group plans to hang out over the weekend and catch up on old times. They have a lot to talk about.

"I don't know as a freshman if I even comprehended the Final Four,'' Whittemore said. "For me it was unfathomable quite honestly. It was an unbelievable experience."


Thanks to Amanda Brooks, Florida's volleyball sports-information director, here is a closer look at the 1992 Florida volleyball team:








Missy Aggert




Jacksonville, Ill.


Heidi Anderson




Yorba Linda, Calif.


Meg Fitzgerald




New Orleans, La.


Aycan Gokberk




Ankara, Turkey


Kim Hale




Fullerton, Calif.


Suzanne Hughes




Oviedo, Fla.


Carrie Jaeck




Bronson, Mich.


Patricia Moreno




Sao Paulo, Brazil


Sara Sidner




Miami Lakes, Fla.


Gudula Staub




Stuttgart, Germany


Chanda Stebbins




Muncie, Ind.


Keri Uptegraph




Seguin, Texas


Nikki Vogt




Glendale, Ariz.


Pronunciation Guide:

Aycan Gokberk – I-john Gok-back

Carrie Jaeck – JAY-eck

Sara Sidner – SIDE-ner

Gudula Staub – Goo-da-la

Keri Uptegraph – UP-ti-graph

Nikki Vogt – Vaught

Chanda Stebbins – CHAN-da



The 1992 Florida volleyball team advanced to the program’s first Final Four in just the second season of Mary Wise’s now-22 year tenure. The group, led by senior Gudula Staub and freshman Aycan Gokberk, went 34-2 on the year, including an unblemished 14-0 for the Gators’ second-straight SEC regular season title. Both of Florida’s losses came to eventual NCAA runner-up and top-ranked UCLA, once in the regular season and the other in the NCAA national semifinals.


In between those two matches, the Gators swept 26 opponents and won the SEC Tournament over No. 12 LSU. The 1992 team etched its name in the history books, holding the program’s pre-rally scoring records for season hitting efficiency (.314) and single match hitting efficiency (.571 vs. Alabama). Gokberk went on to hold the pre-rally scoring era record for career kills (1,721) and senior setter Heidi Anderson finished her career as second all-time in assists (4,855). Staub, who sent the Gators to the Final Four with her stuff block on match point against Texas, ended her career as Florida’s first-ever AVCA All-American and the first two-time All-American in Gator history.



Missy Aggert – AVCA All-District (1995), NCAA All-Region (1993, 1994), NCAA Championship All-Region (1993), All-SEC (1993, 1994, 1995), Academic All-American (1993, 1994, 1995), SEC Academic Honor Roll (1993, 1994, 1995), NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship (1995), Olympic Festival Invitee (1993, 1994, 1995)

Heidi Anderson – AVCA All-American (1992), NCAA All-Region (1992), NCAA Championship All-Region (1992), Academic All-American (1992), SEC Academic Honor Roll (1991, 1992), Olympic Festival Invitee (1992)

Meg Fitzgerald – All-SEC (1992, 1993, 1995), Olympic Festival Invitee (1993)

Aycan Gokberk –AVCA All-American (1993, 1995), Volleyball Magazine All-American (1994), AVCA All-District (1995), NCAA All-Region (1992, 1993), NCAA Championship All-Region (1992, 1993), AVCA National Player of the Week (1995 – twice), All-SEC (1992, 1993, 1995), SEC Player of the Year (1993, 1995), SEC Player of the Week (1991, 1992, 1993 – twice, 1995), Academic All-American (1993, 1995), SEC Academic Honor Roll (1993, 1994, 1995), Ben Hill Griffin Award (1993, 1995)

Suzanne Hughes – NCAA All-Region (1991, 1992), All-SEC (1991, 1992)

Patricia Moreno – SEC Academic Honor Roll (1992, 1993)

Sara Sidner – SEC Academic Honor Roll (1992)

Gudula Staub –AVCA All-American (1991, 1992), NCAA All-Region (1991, 1992), NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team (1992), NCAA Championship All-Region (1991, 1992), All-SEC (1991, 1992), SEC Player of the Year (1992), SEC Player of the Week (1991, 1992), 2000 Olympian (Germany – beach doubles)

Chanda Stebbins – SEC Academic Honor Roll (1995)

Keri Uptegraph – NCAA All-Region (1993), NCAA Championship All-Region (1993), All-SEC (1993), SEC Academic Honor Roll (1992, 1993)

Nikki Vogt – SEC Academic Honor Roll (1991, 1992, 1993)


Team Leaders:

Kills: Gudula Staub (472 (4.37)

Attacks: Gudula Staub, 991

Hitting Percentage: Suzanne Hughes, .371

Assists: Heidi Anderson, 1,349 (12.97)

Service Aces: Gudula Staub, 61 (.56)

Digs: Gudula Staub, 361 (3.34)

Block Solos: Suzanne Hughes, 35

Block Assists: Aycan Gokberk, 76

Total Blocks: Suzanne Hughes, 102 (.94)

Points: Gudula Staub, 573.0 (5.31)


All-Time List (top 10)

Career Sets Played:

7. Heidi Anderson (1989-92) 446

8. Meg Fitzgerald (1992-95) 444

Career Matches Played:

2. Meg Fitzgerald (1992-95) 144

9. Missy Aggert (1992-95) 141

Career Kills:

2. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 1,721

Career Attacks:

7. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 3,266

Career Hitting Percentage:

4. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) .394

8. Gudula Staub (1991-92) .365

Career Assists:

2. Heidi Anderson (1989-92) 4,855

3. Missy Aggert (1992-95) 4,474

Career Service Aces:

4. Heidi Anderson (1989-92) 168

8. Meg Fitzgerald (1992-95) 139

9. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 127

Career Digs:

8. Meg Fitzgerald (1992-95) 1,171

Career Block Solos:

3. Suzanne Hughes (1989-92) 109

5. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 91

Career Block Assists:

7. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 360

Career Total Blocks:

5. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 451

Career Points:

2. Aycan Gokberk (1992-95) 2,119.0

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