Gator Sportshop
Gator Ticket Office

Volleyball Headline

The Brauneis sisters, Georgetown setter Caitlin, left, and Gators setter Taylor, right, face off Friday night.

Thursday September 12, 2013Caitlin and Taylor Brauneis Set for 'The Match' Between Florida and Georgetown

The Brauneis sisters, Georgetown setter Caitlin, left, and Gators setter Taylor, right, face off Friday night.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – They have done this countless times for more than a decade.

First for oldest daughter Lauren. And then for middle daughter Taylor. And finally, for youngest daughter Caitlin.

But never quite like the way they will on Friday night at the O’Connell Center.

Carol and Jerry Brauneis of Crystal Lake, Ill. – located about an hour northwest of Chicago – rolled down Interstate 75 on Thursday toward Atlanta, where they planned to stop for the night before finishing their trip to Gainesville on Friday morning.

The Brauneises have been attending their daughters’ volleyball games even since Lauren, who is now 27, started playing club volleyball as a kid. Still, after all those games and road trips and sweaty uniforms to wash, there has never been an event like what they are simply calling “The Match.”

“The Match” is like the Super Bowl and World Series rolled into one for the Brauneis family.

Taylor, a senior setter for the Gators, is facing Caitlin, a freshman setter for Georgetown, when the schools meet Friday night in the first round of the Active Ankle Challenge.

Taylor and Caitlin were teammates in 2009 at Prairie Ridge High when Taylor was a senior and Caitlin a freshman. Both played in the same club program growing up. But the sisters have never played against each other until Friday.

Unless the teams meet in the postseason, Friday will be the only time.

“I feel like we’re kind of having a wedding in a way,’’ Carol said Thursday from the road. “The chance of this happening is pretty special. We are excited and feel thrilled about what is going on.”

“The Match” even has its own promoter. That would be Jerry, who happens to work in promotions for a living.

Jerry made T-shirts to commemorate the special occasion and Carol made goodie bags for the more than 30 friends and family planning to attend. How big is this for the Brauneises? Taylor’s and Caitlin’s rooting section will be filled with folks from six states.

Illinois, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Georgia and Iowa will each have delegates in the house.

“It’s just awesome to have that much support as a family,’’ Taylor said Thursday before the Gators practiced. “Who gets to say they get to play their sister across the net. It’s an awesome opportunity. It’s going to be really great.”

Lauren arrived in town Thursday from Iowa, where she now lives. She brought daughter Caroline, who as an added bonus to the weekend’s events, turns 1 on the same day as “The Match.”

Meanwhile, Caitlin flew to Florida with the Hoyas on Thursday and said that the three sisters planned to meet up for dinner and stories when everyone got settled in town.

“We have definitely been talking about it,’’ Caitlin said. “It will be really fun. Before the game I don’t know if we’ll be able to take each other seriously, but when it comes game time we’ll go each into our own worlds and take it pretty seriously.”

A transfer from Louisville, Taylor quickly made her impact felt at UF last season by earning honorable mention All-American honors and leading the SEC with 11.65 assists per set. Her .298 hitting percentage led the SEC and ranked fourth nationally.

Caitlin, team captain at Prairie Ridge the past two years, is only eight games into her college career. She came ready to play, though, leading the Hoyas with 47 assists in her debut against George Mason on Aug. 30.

The sisters are both listed at 5-foot-10 and play the same position. The similarities don’t stop there.

When Taylor watched film this week to prepare for the Hoyas, she immediately spotted her sister.

“We have the same type of hands,’’ Taylor said. “There are a couple of little things she does differently than I do, but as a whole, we are kind of the same player.”

Taylor said the biggest difference in their court demeanor is that Caitlin plays a more fiery style. Taylor prefers to maintain a steady calmness during a match.

Off the court, the sisters also have some carbon copy qualities.

“We’re both pretty quirky and weird. We get along pretty well,’’ Caitlin said. “We definitely had our differences when we were younger, but once we got in high school, we became best friends.”

The two have known about the unique matchup since the schedule was finalized months ago. They spent time at home together over the summer talking about it as Carol set in motion a plan to celebrate the rare occasion.

Based on research in UF’s sports information office, Friday’s match is believed to be the first time a Gators player has faced her sister’s team.

Taylor turned 22 recently. Caitlin turns 19 in a couple of weeks. “The Match” is something they will talk about for years to come, long after their volleyball careers are over.

Having their parents in the stands makes it even more special.

“They absolutely love the game,” Taylor said. “My mom knows nothing about it, but she enjoys it so much. She is our biggest cheerleader out there. And my dad always has that one word of advice after the game.”

Jerry added a few more words for this one. They are printed on those T-shirts he made.

On the front: The Match … Florida vs. Georgetown … Taylor vs. Caitlin … Sept. 13, 2013.

On the back: We love setters.

 

Email Scott Carter   |   Follow on Twitter   |   Like on Facebook   |   Carter's Corner

Florida Athletics - A Championship Experience with Integrity - Vision Statement
  • University of Florida
  • NCAA
  • Sun Sports / Fox Sports Florida
  • IMG
  • SEC Network

© 1998 - 2014 University Athletic Assoc., Inc., Sun Sports & IMG College. All Rights Reserved.