Caroline Knop

Caroline Knop and the Gators volleyball team is looking to put their loss to Kentucky behind them. “We want to be peaking in December and not October, so for us to put that loss behind us will be really important,” Knop said.

Alan Alvarez / Alligator Staff

The No. 4 Gators are looking to rebound from a 3-1 home loss at the hands of then-No. 8 Kentucky on Sunday.

It was Florida’s first defeat of the season and ended its three-week run as the nation’s top-ranked team.

“We want to be peaking in December and not October, so for us to put that loss behind us will be really important,” senior Caroline Knop said. “We just have to be a little bit cleaner in some spots.”

The Gators (14-1, 6-1 SEC) will spend the next few days in Alabama, stopping first in Tuscaloosa for a match against the Crimson Tide tonight at 8 and then in Auburn, where they face the Tigers at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Alabama (14-7, 2-5 SEC) is coming off a 3-1 loss at LSU on Sunday and has struggled offensively, ranking 12th in the SEC in hitting percentage.

Alabama runs its offense through outside hitter Christine Jarman (196 kills) and middle blockers Leah Lawrence (204 kills) and Hayley McSparin (179 kills). Lawrence also leads the Crimson Tide in service aces and blocks.

Meanwhile, Auburn (11-7, 4-5 SEC) is looking to end a four-match skid on Sunday. The Tigers’ most recent setback came in the form of a 3-1 loss to South Carolina on Wednesday.

The trio of Gwyn Jones (188 kills), Shaina White (184) and Brenna McIlroy (184) has helped Auburn average 13.7 kills per set, the fourth-best rate in the SEC.

Defensively, Auburn is third in the conference in digs but is last in blocks per set.

Fortunately for the Gators, they have Rhamat Alhassan and Rachael Kramer to lean on this weekend.

“They’re growing together this year and becoming a huge force for us,” assistant coach Dave Boos said before the team left Gainesville.

Alhassan and Kramer are second and third, respectively, in kills for the Gators.

Alhassan ranks third in the nation in blocks per set and both Kramer (11th) and Alhassan (13th) rank in the top 15 nationally in hitting percentage.

Senior Carli Snyder is the team’s most productive player overall, however.

“She does pretty much everything you could ask,” Boos said. “You know, great server, defender, passer, attacker. She’s got a lot of toughness in her.”

Snyder leads Florida’s offensive attack with a team-high 179 kills and is also second in digs. She leads the Gators in serving as well, ranking seventh in the NCAA in service aces per set.

“Carli truly can do it all,” Knop said. “She makes everything flow very well and is extremely fun to play next to.”

You can follow Andrew Huang on Twitter @AndrewJHuang, and contact him at [email protected].

Andrew Huang is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida volleyball team. He has worked at the paper since Spring 2017.