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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Five minutes after defeating LSU on Sunday afternoon, the UF volleyball team had a flight to catch.

There was no time for postgame stretching, no time for showering and no time for changing into street clothes.

BThat was a little insane,C senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton said. BWe couldn?t even change out of our stuff. We were changing on the bus and packing up stuff on the bus because our flight I think was at like 4:30 and the match went a little long.

BSo it was literally, get off the court and run out to the bus.C

All that to catch a flight from Baton Rouge, La., to Memphis, Tenn., and then another flight from Memphis to Orlando.

The traveling didn?t stop there. The Gators had a bus trip back to Gainesville, only to arrive in the wee hours of the morning.

The No. 6 Gators are in for more sleep-deprived nights as they head west for two more conference road games this weekend.

Some of the players see the flights and rides as a chance to sleep or listen to music, but many of them engage in more scholarly pursuits.

Since they miss Thursday and Friday classes when they have road trips, many use the travel time to catch up on homework.

BObviously if it?s a long weekend road trip, we try to get some homework breaks in there,C senior setter Angie McGinnis said.

The coaches also spend time on planes doing their own homework: watching video of the Gators? previous matches and scouting upcoming opponents.

BTechnology has allowed us to do a lot of work,C UF coach Mary Wise said. BWe put in a DVD on the bus ride back, and all three of us coaches have portable DVD players.C

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Because Southeastern Conference schools are typically in cities without major international airports, there is added mystery and delays to the travel schedule.

BTo get from Oxford, Mississippi, to anywhere is a little bit difficult,C Wise said.

The team?s flights are regularly re-routed and delayed, especially once they get to the hub of the SEC - Atlanta.

BWe get delayed all the time because we have to fly through Atlanta so much,C Hampton said. BWe spend a lot of time in airports.C

Hampton crossed her index and middle fingers, adding that she and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are Blike this.C

Even the season?s opening road trip, where UF visited Illinois State and Notre Dame on Aug. 24-26, forced the team to spend extra time in Macon, Ga., after it couldn?t land in Atlanta.

BIt?s kind of like a joke,C McGinnis said. BYou have to expect that we get back at 2, 3 in the morning every morning because most of the time we?re delayed through Atlanta.C

This weekend, UF heads to Starkville, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., for another Friday-Sunday SEC series.

UF, South Carolina and Arkansas (twice) are the only SEC schools to play four straight matches on the road on back-to-back weekends. Mississippi State and South Carolina also play a Wednesday and Sunday match one week, followed by two weekend matches the next week.

BIf we could just figure out a way to get the schedule so you wouldn?t have to (play away) two weekends in a row; I think that?s a little unfair,C Wise said. BBut, it is what it is, just roll out the ball and play.C

It will be another turbulent weekend for UF, but the team will make it through all right, just as long as the players remember to take their belongings off the buses with them.

BWe?re forever leaving cell phones on the bus and having to run back to the bus and grab it,C Hampton said. BAmber (McCray) does it all the time actually.C

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