Thursday November 29, 2012No. 14 Seed Florida Volleyball Readies for NCAA First Round Showdown with Tulsa
The 14th-seeded Florida volleyball team (25-4, 19-1 SEC) plays host to the NCAA Volleyball Gainesville Sub-Regional Friday-Saturday, November 30-December 1 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. All matches can be viewed live on NCAA.com. The radio call of Friday evening’s match can be heard live on ESPN 850/900.
The 2012 Southeastern Conference Champion Gators face Conference USA Champion Tulsa Golden Hurricane (26-9, 14-2 C-USA) at 7:30 p.m. ET in the second match of the evening. The first match pits Atlantic Coast Conference runner-up Miami (25-5, 17-3 ACC) against Southern Conference Champion College of Charleston (26-7, 14-2 SoCon) at 5 p.m. ET. The two advancing teams will match up on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET for a berth in the Austin Regional.
2012 SEC Coach of the Year Mary Wise is undefeated in the NCAA First Round, going 14-0 since the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams in 1998. The Gators are competing in their 22nd consecutive NCAA Tournament and are making their 23rd appearance overall.
The Gators are 56-22 (.718) all-time in the NCAA Championship, including a 55-21 (.724) mark under Wise’s direction. Florida has advanced to NCAA regional action in 20 of Wise’s previous 21 seasons and has reached the national semifinal on seven occasions during that span.
This marks the 20th time in the last 22 years that the Gators have played host to opening-round contests, and Florida is 43-6 when hosting NCAA action in Gainesville.
Florida has only faced one of the teams in the Gainesville Sub-Regional, sweeping College of Charleston in the opening round of the NCAA Championship in both 2007 and 2009 in Gainesville. This is Miami (FL)’s fourth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, while Tulsa is making its third-straight trip to the Big Dance and Charleston is returning to NCAAs for the first time since falling to the Gators in 2009.
The Gators lead the SEC and are fifth in the nation in hitting percentage (.301), while also ranking tops in the conference in service aces (1.44/set). Junior middle blocker and SEC Player of the Year Chloe Mann leads the squad with a .437 hitting percentage, good for fifth in the NCAA, putting down 346 kills on the year thus far. Mann leads Florida with 1.13 blocks/set, good for third in the SEC.
Freshman outside hitter and SEC Freshman of the Year Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) leads Florida in kills with 409 (4.05/set) and ranks top five in the SEC in kills and points per set (4.50). The Slovenia native already owns the Florida freshman record for kills with 409 and is second in kills per set only to Gator Great Aury Cruz, who crushed 4.32 kills/set during her rookie campaign.
Junior setter and First Team All-SEC selection Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) leads the conference with 11.64 assists/set, good for 12th in the NCAA. Brauneis is a key component to Florida’s offensive prowess in 2012, as the Gators have ranked in the top-five in hitting efficiency nationally all season.
Florida’s senior class, comprised of Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) and Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.), has been the picture of consistency throughout the season. Wiggs, a First Team All-SEC selection, is second in the SEC and 30th in the NCAA in hitting percentage with a .376 offensive efficiency and is third on the team with 226 kills on the year. Wiggs is second on the team in total blocks with 73 and is third in blocks per set (.76).
Smith, a Second Team All-SEC honoree, is ninth in the conference with a .338 hitting percentage, tallying 192 kills in 2012. Smith is second on the team in blocks per set (.80) and third in total blocks with 71. Weston has come on as a late serving specialist and has tallied 12 digs and three service aces on the season.
Tulsa is currently on a seven-match win streak, winning 19 of the Golden Hurricane’s last 21 competitions. TU ranks in the top-20 nationally in kills per set (14.49, 15th), assists per set (13.48, 16th) and digs per set (18.02, 13th).
TU is led by senior outside hitter Tyler Henderson, who is tops in the nation in points per set (5.77) and kills per set (5.21). Henderson is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the NCAA and is a powerful threat on the left side. The Golden Hurricane also produces defensively, as C-USA Libero of the Year Jessica Adams scoops 5.20 digs/set.
NCAA Gainesville Sub-Regional tickets are now on sale. General admission all-session passes are available for $10 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens. Youth tickets are available for $4. Fans can purchase tickets by phone at (800) 34-GATOR, ext. 6800 or online at GatorZone.com/tickets. Only all-session passes will be available at that time. Single-session tickets will be available only on the day of the event.
All information on NCAA Volleyball Gainesville Sub-Regional can be found at the GatorZone NCAA Tournament Central.
For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/Volleyball or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida volleyball on Twitter at @GatorZoneVB or www.twitter.com/GatorZoneVB and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at @GatorMary or www.twitter.com/GatorMary. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.