Thursday October 3, 2013No. 3 Gators Host Texas A&M in SEC Home Opener, Travel to Alabama
The No. 3 Florida volleyball team opens conference play at home Friday night as the Gators host Texas A&M at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. ET October 4. Fox Sports Florida will air the match live with Larry Vettel and former All-SEC standout Missy Whittemore on the call.
The Gators then travel to Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 6. This is the only split weekend of action for the Orange and Blue, who sit atop the SEC standings after the first weekend of conference action.
Last Time Out: The No. 3 Florida volleyball team opened up SEC play by sweeping Mississippi State and Ole Miss on the road last week. Florida was led Friday by sophomore outside hitters Gabby Mallette and Živa Recek, who both turned in double-digit kills against MSU. Mallette led all hitters with a match-high 11 kills, while Recek tallied 10 kills to go along with nine digs for a near-double-double. Against Ole Miss Sunday, Recek led all players with a match-high 16 kills against the Rebels. Sophomore middle blocker Simone Antwi led the block party for the Gators with a career-high-tying seven blocks (two solo, five assists) against the Rebels. Antwi was second on the team with 12.5 points as she also slammed seven kills. As a team, the Gators had a season-high 15 blocks, the most in a single match since Oct. 5, 2012. Florida stuffed seven solo blocks as a team, tying for the sixth-most in a single match in program history. Seven solo stuffs are the most from the Gators since Oct. 5, 2012 at home vs. Arkansas.
Mary’s Milestone: Florida head coach Mary Wise is going for her 700th win as the head coach at Florida. Wise has a 699-81 (.896) record entering the weekend.
NCAA Numbers: Senior Chloe Mann is second in the NCAA in hitting percentage (.510), while the Gators are second in the nation with a .338 offensive clip. Senior setter Taylor Brauneis is 12th in assists (11.54/set) and 14th in aces (.51/set).
Not On Our Watch: Florida has forced 10 of its 14 opponents to operate at under .200 hitting efficiency, including three offensive outputs at .000 and below. The Gators held the Bulldogs to a .179 hitting percentage Friday night and the Rebels to a .070 offensive clip Sunday afternoon.
Aggie to Watch: Senior setter Allie Sawatzky is one of top setters in the SEC, ranking fifth in the SEC in assists with 9.81 assists/set. A 6-2 lefty, Sawatzky has not missed a start at setter in her Aggie career and was named Preseason All-SEC, Texas A&M Invitational MVP and All-Tourney at the UTSA Classic and UND Classic.
Tide to Watch: Freshman middle blocker Krystal Rivers ranks third in the SEC and 14th in the nation in hitting percentage (.437). Named SEC Freshman of the Week on Sept. 23, Rivers leads the Crimson Tide in points/set (4.25) and blocks (.85).
All-Time: The Gators are undefeated against both of this weekend’s opponents. Florida and Texas A&M have met seven times in program history with the Gators defeating the Aggies in all seven meetings. In 2012, Florida staged an epic comeback, rallying from down 0-2 to taking the match in a five-set thriller, 3-2. The Aggies have not played in the O’Connell Center since 1995. Florida boasts a 37-0 record over Alabama, including 35-0 under Mary Wise.
Mary’s Minute: “Texas A&M had so many good seniors a year ago and they’re deep this year too. It speaks volumes about their staff. They’re led by a fantastic setter in Allie Sawatzky, who is easily the most offensive setter we’ll play against. With her height, she’s just a baller. If you don’t have to play against her, she’s really fun to watch. Texas A&M blocks well. They’re getting point production out of all of their hitters and not just relying on one arm. There are lots of things that will make Friday night fun for our players and our fans.”
Mary by the Numbers:
At Florida: 699-81
Records: Florida: 13-1 (2-0 SEC), Texas A&M: 9-3 (1-0 SEC), Alabama: 11-4 (1-1 SEC)
On The Horizon: Florida hosts its first full SEC home weekend as the Gators welcome No. 19 Kentucky and longtime SEC foe Georgia to the O’Connell Center. The Gators and the Wildcats face off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports Florida Friday, October 11. The matchup between the Gators and the Bulldogs airs live at 2 p.m. ET on CSS/CST.
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 and is representing the Gators with a blog on ESPNW.
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.
Friday, October 4
Sunday, October 6