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Thursday August 16, 2012Gator Volleyball Notebook - August 16, 2012

Gainesville, Fla.

The Florida volleyball team participated in its annual preseason media day on Wednesday. Nearly every player was interviewed throughout the event, as well as Florida head coach Mary Wise, and provided interesting sound bites on the upcoming season, their summer activities and having the opportunity for the entire team to stay on campus for Summer B.

 

According to the players, someone to look out for is transfer setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.).

 

“It is so great to have Taylor coming from a successful program and the experience she has,” senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) said. “She has run a 5-1 offense, and we have only run a 6-2 in the past couple of years, so having someone come with the experience of running a 5-1 is so different. That is something that she is really able to command with her role as a setter… Having Taylor is huge. It is something that puts us a step ahead.”

 

Junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) received Preseason All-SEC honors, but was quick to return the focus to the team.

 

“That was definitely exciting to be named Preseason All-SEC, but we are more focused on where we are going to end up at the end of the SEC matches,” Mann said. “We are working very hard in practice and hopefully at the end, we will have an SEC Championship.”

 

Early enrollee Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.) has been on campus since January and feels prepared for the 2012 season.

 

“It’s not a huge step ahead, but, obviously, in the weight room you get almost six extra months of training and it helps to have a whole semester (of classes) under my belt. In terms of the program, I think I know the way it works more and I am more adjusted to it.”

 

QUOTEABLES FROM FLORIDA VOLLEYBALL MEDIA DAY

 

Florida Head Coach Mary Wise

On the no excuses motto…

“It’s all about toughness and that it would be real easy to excuse away what we don’t have in the number of returning starters or maybe we don’t have enough experience in this position. But at the end of the day, those are just excuses and we can develop a team mantra being a team of toughness, then we’ve got a chance to battle any team whether it’s at the O’Connell Center or on the road. That’s what the really tough teams do. It’s one thing to play well at home but it’s another thing to take that act on the road.”

 

#1 Berkley Whaley, Fr., OH

On growing up in Florida and going to the home state school...

“It’s awesome. It’s always been my dream to come to school here since I was in the third grade and feels amazing to be representing my home state.”

 

#2 Dana Backlund, Fr., S/OH

On what she’s looking forward to the most…

“Just being in this competitive environment with all of these girls is really fun. It is going to be a lot of fun and I love every single one of these girls.”

 

#4 Tangerine Wiggs, Sr., RS

On excitement of getting season started…

“It is really exciting being a fifth-year senior. We have a really great team. We have some great freshman coming in. It is just exciting to finally all be together playing. They are learning the system really well and they are so advanced that they are picking it up at a really fast pace.”

 

#5 Taylor Unroe, So., L

On taking a leadership role…

“Having a leadership role is fun when you have a great group. The freshman class is awesome and everybody is very even keel and fun to be with, so who wouldn’t want to lead a team like that? I’m pretty young compared to some of the seniors we have now so I’m still trying to learn from them and how they do it.”

 

#6 Jackie Swalchick, Fr., OH

On being from nearby Melbourne, Fla. and why she wanted to be a Gator…

“My mom went here, so she was always for the Gators and she was like ‘Jackie you should go there’ and after meeting the coaches and all the other girls, it was definitely something I’ve always wanted to do.”

 

#8 Taylor Brauneis, Jr., S

On strength coach Matt DeLancey…

“Matt definitely knows what he’s talking about. He put me into great shape and he knows what we need to achieve to be a good volleyball team and physically he’s done that for us. I’ve seen changes in myself and any issue I’m dealing with, he knows how to treat that.”

 

#9 Živa Recek, Fr., OH

On the biggest difference in style of play between Slovenia and at Florida

“I think here in the USA, they play faster and all the players are louder and talk a lot when they are playing. I was very quiet on the court the first day I came here but I am getting better at that.”

 

#10 Chloe Mann, Jr., MB

On playing with the USA A2 program...

“It was a really exciting experience. It was my first time being selected for the program, so I felt honored. I got to work with a lot of amazing and elite-level coaches and some of the best players across the country.”

 

#11 Madison Monserez, So., DS

On playing time as freshman preparing for upcoming season…

“I am so grateful I got to play. The team was so encouraging, along with the coaches, and it just gave me a taste of what it is like to play for Gator volleyball which is amazing. It just drove me and the team to really push for this season and fight for every game and every practice to prepare for that.”

 

#13 Sundai Weston, Sr., DS

On the importance of the intangibles outside of the court and in the classroom and weight room...

“I think Florida is just one of those top-tier programs where it’s the intangibles that really set you apart. Those are the things if you don’t work on them and continue to do them throughout the year, it will limit you in what you are capable of. To win national titles is something we all strive for every time we come to the gym. Intangibles are the difference makers and give you that extra push.”

 

#14 Betsy Smith, Sr., MB

On playing with so many young players…

“They are all full of energy and ready to go all the time. It is nice to be able to feed off of that because we have been here a while, so we kind of know the routine and have our things that make us successful but it is also learning from them and their energy and enthusiasm for the sport.”

 

#16 Simone Antwi, R-Fr., MB

On how redshirting helped her prepare for this year...

“I learned a lot of the team defenses. From the seniors and all of the players from last year, I saw the energy and how they played on the court. I learned how to play like them, being able to watch as a redshirt.”

 

#17 Noami Santos-Lamb, So., OH

On her advice to the freshmen…

“Do not let the pressure get into your head. You just got here, you are freshmen. We are all learning, even the people who are juniors and seniors. We are all going through this together. Just give it time and learn as much as you can as we go.”

 

#20 Nikki O’Rourke, Fr., DS

On recently winning the 18 Open nationals and how that experience helped prepare for Florida volleyball…

“Definitely. It was a lot of competition and being raised to that high of a level helps a lot. That final game was a lot of fun and really helped me once I got here.”

 

#30 Holly Pole, So., DS

On how playing as a freshman prepared her for the upcoming season…

“It has prepared me a lot. It was hard being thrown in there last year with all the fifth-year seniors and being such an older and experienced team. Now this year, I am one of the older girls on the team. It is a lot different. I’m just trying to help the freshmen feel more comfortable on the court.”

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