The Gators are beginning to bounce back from their biggest disappointment of the season.
After a three-week run as the nation’s top-ranked team — and its only undefeated team — the No. 4 Gators (16-1, 8-1 SEC) suffered their first loss following an offensive onslaught by then-No. 8 Kentucky.
“You can see why we voted Kentucky number one in the league,” coach Mary Wise said after the Oct. 15 home loss. “They have the most talent in the league. They’re very, very good.”
While Florida’s defense was roasted by the Wildcats, it has been the Gators’ backbone throughout the season, and currently ranks among the NCAA’s top 10 in blocks and opponent hitting percentage.
During last weekend’s road trip to the state of Alabama, Florida’s stifling defense returned to form.
The Gators held Alabama and Auburn to a combined .089 hitting percentage, a significant improvement from Kentucky’s .309 clip.
Friday night’s sweep kept Wise’s perfect record against the Tide intact. UF’s coach now holds a 42-0 record against Alabama and improved to 42-1 against Auburn.
Florida returns to the O’Connell Center on Friday to take on South Carolina and travels to Starkville on Sunday to face Mississippi State.
Gators getting solid individual play:
After collecting a team-high 13 blocks against Alabama and Auburn, senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week. For the season, Alhassan’s 1.72 blocks per set leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation.
Alhassan also had three digs against Alabama, including one in which the 6-foot-4 senior laid out in front of the net to keep a rally alive, leading to a Florida point.
Three other Gators were instrumental in UF’s winning weekend. Senior Carli Snyder, Florida’s team-leader in points scored this season, averaged 12 kills and 14.5 digs against the Tide and the Tigers. Snyder capped off her strong weekend with an error-free performance at Auburn that included three service aces. Snyder leads the SEC in service aces per set, and sits at ninth in the NCAA in that category.
Sophomore Rachael Kramer recorded 25 kills with just two errors over the weekend, hitting an efficient .535 in the process. Kramer’s season average of .442 ranks sixth in the country.
“She just keeps getting better and adding new wrinkles to the offense,” Wise said. “She’s becoming such a complete player so early in her career.”
Against the Tigers on Sunday, redshirt senior Shainah Joseph led all players with 13 kills. Joseph committed just one error in the match and finished with a blistering .632 hitting percentage.
A video posted to FloridaGators.com contributed to this report.
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