Volleyball2000 SEC Volleyball Tournament
Florida's Stephen C. O'Connell Center has a reputation around the Southeastern Conference and throughout the nation-enthusiastic and friendly if you're a Gator. . .noisy, deafening and menacing if you're the opposition. In 1999, ESPN The Magazine dubbed it the House of Horrors, the nation's scariest arena for opponents.
UF welcomes its competition, affectionately known as "Gator Bait," with a pre-match show like none other. Spotlights, a light show and thunderous music highlight the team introductions before the crowd erupts in darkness with the playing of the Gator fight song. Fans roar with the final "Come on, Gators, get up and go!," as the lights burst on and the whistle for first serve blows. Additionally, Florida's mascots-Alberta, Albert and Ollie-the band, cheerleaders, the new state-of-the-art shutter lighting system, four scoreboards and in-game statistics boards, and, of course, the best fans provide an atmosphere that is matchless in Division I volleyball.
The Gators play on their own, volleyball-specific floor, which has been home to many Gator volleyball achievements. The O'Connell Center is home to the Gators' 58-match home win streak (Oct. 14, 1990-Sept. 4, 1994), which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history, and an active 71-match home SEC win streak. In fact, Coach Mary Wise has never lost to an SEC opponent in the O'Connell Center. It has been the home venue in each of UF's 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the past nine consecutive years. Five NCAA Regionals have been held here, too, three of which sent the Gators to the Final Four. UF has a 16-2 NCAA record at home.
Built at a cost of $14 million, the O'Connell Center (named for former UF President Stephen C. O'Connell, 1967-73) has become the showplace for college volleyball in the Southeast. In 1999, the O'Connell Center received $10.3 million worth of renovations. The old bubble top was replaced with a permanent cap and internal improvements were made, as well. With seating for 12,000, Gator faithful have ranked UF in the nation's Top 10 attendance averages each year since 1991. Last season, the Gators were fourth nationally, averaging 2,324 in 14 home dates. Over the past nine seasons, 356,281 fans have poured through the gates to watch Gator volleyball.
The University Athletic Association Athletic Center
Opened just four years ago, the University Athletic Association Athletic Center was designed to meet the needs of the Gator volleyball team, housing three practice courts, a team locker room and a sports medicine area. The UAAAC is on the same block as the Gator Corner Dining Hall and across the street from the Schnell Field residence buildings.
Most Gator student-athletes live in the Schnell Field residence buildings, which opened in fall 1996. The dorms provide apartment-style living within a block from the athletic facilities. Each bedroom is equipped with data outlets connected to the university's computer network.