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Monday September 16, 2013No. 4 Gators Renew Sunshine State Rivalry as No. 17 Noles Come to Gainesville

Gainesville, Fla.

The No. 4 Florida volleyball team plays host to No. 17 Florida State as the Seminoles return to Gainesville for the first time since 2011. The Gators and the Noles face off at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 17 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


Last Time Out: The Gators captured their third consecutive Active Ankle Challenge title, sweeping Georgetown and Iona before defeating Western Michigan in four in the tournament finale. Živa Recek was named MVP of the weekend, averaging 4.00 kills/set and hitting .303 over the course of the tournament. Seniors Chloe Mann and Taylor Brauneis were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Mann hit .611 with 36 kills, while Brauneis dished out 13.14 assists/set and directed the Gators to a .363 hitting percentage over the weekend.


Noles to Watch: Florida State features the Walch sisters, Nicole and Elise, who combined for 44 kills in the Seminoles’ upset victory over then-No. 7 Michigan Saturday. Nicole leads the Noles with 116 kills on the season (3.52/set), while Elise is not far behind with 3.00/set.


All-Time: The Gators’ greatest non-conference rivalry enters its 28th year and will be the 53rd meeting between the Gators and the Seminoles. Under Gator head coach Mary Wise, Florida has gone a remarkable 28-3 against FSU, including an undefeated 16-0 at home.


Mary’s Minute: “Last year, we went to Tallahassee, with their experience, they were flawless. They played really, really well and deserved the win. They come back here, although they return a senior middle blocker, a senior outside hitter and a senior right side, but they did have to graduate a couple players who gave us trouble in the past. It’s still Florida State. They’re running a similar offense, similar defense, great talent and I see them winning their conference, making the NCAA Tournament and making a long run. (We have) a great opportunity tomorrow night. Their only losses have come to ranked teams by the smallest of margins, so they’re right there. (It) should be a fun night.”


Mary by the Numbers:

                At Florida: 694-81

                All-Time: 775-144


Records: Florida: 8-1, Florida State: 6-3


NCAA Numbers: Senior Chloe Mann is second in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.511), while the Gators are third in the nation with a .338 offensive clip. Senior setter Taylor Brauneis is 12th in assists (11.54/set) and 15th in aces (.54/set).


Ranked Rivals: Tuesday’s match marks the fourth consecutive year both rivals square off as nationally-ranked opponents based on the AVCA Poll. The Gators were 11th when they fell at No. 12 Florida State, ninth in 2011 when UF swept No. 25 FSU in Gainesville, and third when facing the No. 13 Seminoles in Tallahassee in 2010.


Defense Doing Work: The Florida defense had one of its best weekends of the year, as libero Taylor Unroe averaged 4.70 digs/set over the last three matches. Sophomore Nikki O’Rourke made the most of her minutes, averaging 2.60 digs/set in just three rotations. Junior Holly Pole was right behind her, turning in a 2.50 dig/set average over the weekend. The Gators had five players in double-digit digs against Stanford, the first time since Florida’s five-set defeat to Tennessee last season (November 4, 2012). UF has a .966 reception percentage, their second-highest in the last five seasons.


Not On Our Watch: Florida has forced six of its nine opponents to operate at under .200 hitting efficiency. The Gators held the Hoyas to -.090 offensive clip, the second time this season a Florida opponent hit negative. Iona nearly hit negative against Florida, tallying an .087 hitting percentage.


On The Horizon: Florida travels to the state of Wisconsin to take on Marquette (Fri., Sept. 20 – 8 p.m. ET) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Sat., Sept. 21 – 7 p.m. ET) at the Marquette Invitational. The next three matches are Florida’s last of the non-conference slate before starting SEC play in the Magnolia State against Mississippi State (Fri., Sept. 27 – 8 p.m. ET) and Ole Miss (Sun., Sept. 29 – 2:30 p.m. ET).


Preseason Buzz: Florida was picked to win the Southeastern Conference title in a preseason vote of the league’s coaches, while senior middle blocker Chloe Mann and sophomore outside hitter Živa Recek were named Preseason All-SEC. Mann was also recently named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award.


They’re Back: Florida returns 11 letterwinners and five starters from a year ago, including First Team All-American Mann, AVCA National Freshman of the Year Recek, AVCA Honorable Mention All-American setter Taylor Brauneis, 2011 SEC All-Freshman Team honoree Taylor Unroe and sophomore outside hitter Gabby Mallette.


Lights, Camera, Action: Florida will be on television 12 times during the course of the 2013 regular season, the most of any Southeastern Conference program. The Gators’ next televised match is Friday, October 4 at home against Texas A&M.


Follow the Gators: For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please visit GatorZone. For up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida Volleyball (@GatorZoneVB) and Coach Mary Wise (@GatorMary) on Twitter. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.


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Tuesday, September 17

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