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Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Gators are still mad about losing to Arkansas, and Auburn happens to be the unfortunate team in their path.

The No. 10 UF volleyball team (16-1, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) heads to Auburn today at 8 p.m. to play for the first time since its loss last week.

UF also plays at Georgia on Sunday at 2 p.m., and the Gators are more than ready to get back into the win column.

BFriday can?t come soon enough,C senior opposite hitter Amber McCray said. BEspecially coming after a loss, the first thing you want to do is get back in the gym and get to play another team. So I?m definitely excited about this weekend.C

UF coach Mary Wise doesn?t expect there to be any lack of effort from her players this weekend, either.

BIf we aren?t more motivated, I?ll check the heart rate,C Wise said. BWe certainly can?t wait to play again, get it out of our system.C

The Tigers (10-11, 2-8 SEC) took UF to four games at Auburn last season, but they are currently tied for the worst record in the conference.

The Tigers? offense has not been very productive this year. They rank 10th out of 11 teams in the SEC for kills per game and hitting percentage. Plus, their blocking is 10th in the conference.

Still, don?t expect UF to take Auburn lightly - the team learned its lesson last week.

BI don?t think going to Auburn or Georgia are any different than going away at Arkansas,C Wise said. BThere have been years where there was a gap between Florida and the rest of the league. We could go on the road and not play well and still win. That?s not 2007. That?s just not reality.C

UF has not lost to Auburn since 1990, over a span of 25 straight matches. Wise also holds a 23-0 record against the Tigers during her tenure at UF.

The Gators played four road matches in a row earlier this season, and both matches this weekend are also away from the O?Connell Center?s comfortable surroundings.The strain of competing in enemy territory is weighing on sophomore libero Elyse Cusack.

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BWe?re back on the road again,C Cusack said. BIt?s kind of like we?re always on the road this season.C

UF has already played both of this weekend?s opponents this season, sweeping the Tigers on Sept. 16 in Gainesville and downing Georgia on Sept. 14 by a score of 3-1.

Georgia (13-7, 4-6 SEC) is home to powerful attacker Maria Taylor. Taylor leads the SEC in kills (347), kills per game (4.89) and is 10th in the conference in blocks per game with 1.18.

Even though UF held her to only 10 kills in four games in September, the Gators won?t let their guard down come Sunday.

BI think we?re just going to keep getting better,C McCray said. BWe?re still in the middle of the season, definitely haven?t peaked yet. … We?re excited to … see just how far we can go.C

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