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Thursday August 23, 2012No. 18/20 Gators Host Campus USA Credit Union Invitational to Open 2012 Season

Gainesville, Fla.

The No. 18/20 University of Florida volleyball team opens up the 2012 season this Friday and Saturday, as they play host to FIU, Florida A&M and Florida Gulf Coast at the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational. Matches will take place this Friday and Saturday, August 24-25 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


The Gators face off against the FIU Panthers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, the Rattlers of Florida A&M at 12 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. All Florida matches will stream live on GatorVision and each of the Gators’ matches can be heard live with the call from longtime play-by-play announcer Tom Collett and former Gator All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore. Friday’s match can be found on 103.7 The Gator while Saturday’s matches can both be heard on ESPN 850/900.


The Orange and Blue return eight letterwinners and four regular starters from a year ago, including All-SEC selections libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.), who was named to the All-Freshman team in 2011, and right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.), who was named Second Team All-SEC as a junior. The Gators welcome back a solid presence in the middle, as the blocking duo of Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), who won the USA A2 Championship this summer, and Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), who led the team in blocking last season with .99 blocks/set, both return to the floor.


Florida welcomes seven newcomers to the court in 2012, including two-time All-Big EAST selection and AVCA honorable mention All-American setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.), a University of Louisville transfer, and redshirt freshman middle blocker Simone Antwi (Lorton, Va.). Setter Dana Backlund (Wildomar, Calif.) joins Brauneis in the quarterbacking role, while rookie outside hitters Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.), Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia), Jackie Swalchick (Melbourne, Fla.) and Berkley Whaley (Saint Petersburg, Fla.) all provide depth on the pins. Defensive specialist Nikki O'Rourke (Clearwater, Fla.) joins Unroe and fellow returners Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.), Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) and Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) in patrolling the back row.


As seen during the Fan Day scrimmage, Florida will execute a 5-1 offense for the first time since 2007, when three-time AVCA All-American Angie McGinnis ran the Gators’ side of the net. Brauneis, who has been with the Gators since January, has stepped into her new role on the Gators’ floor seamlessly.


The Gators’ first opponent, FIU, returns eight letterwinners and three starters from the 2011 season. Senior outside hitters Jovana Bjelica and Marija Prsa and sophomore setter Jessica Egan return for the Panthers. FIU posted their seventh-consecutive winning season and fourth-straight 20-win campaign. The Panthers compiled an overall record of 20-10, going 10-6 in Sun Belt Conference play, and as tournament host, reached the SBC Championship semifinals for the sixth-consecutive year.


UF faces Florida A&M on Saturday in their first of two matches on the day. Florida A&M is fresh off a 2011 campaign in which the Rattlers went 13-14 overall and 9-1 in MEAC play. Under the direction of Head Coach Tanio Trifonov, in his 16th season at FAMU, returns six letterwinners, including five starters from last years squad, and his team is predicted to finish atop the MEAC Southern Division.


Florida’s final opponent is Florida Gulf Coast, which returns 11 letterwinners, including five starters, from a 2011 team which put together a record of 18-13 (10-3 A-Sun). Head Coach Dave Nichols enters his fifth season with the Eagles, and FGCU has been picked to finish second in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll.


Season tickets are on sale now for the 2012 Florida volleyball season and fans have multiple options to enjoy the Gators in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.


For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please log on to or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida volleyball on Twitter at @GatorZoneVB or and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at @GatorMary or You can also find the Gators on Facebook.


Campus USA Credit Union Invitational

Fri., Aug 24


5:30 p.m.

FGCU (home) vs. FAMU (away)

7:30 p.m.

Florida (home) vs. FIU (away)

Sat., Aug. 25


10:00 a.m.

FIU (home) vs. FGCU (away)

12:00 p.m.

Florida (home) vs. FAMU (away)

5:30 p.m.

FAMU (home) vs. FIU (away)

7:30 p.m.

Florida (home) vs. FGCU (away)


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