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Friday, March 31, 2023

Mary Wise's weekend was filled with motorcycles and booked hotels.

When the No.10 Gators arrived in Fayetteville, Ark., on Thursday they were surprised to learn that their match against the Razorbacks just happened to coincide with the city's annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival.

An event that Wise was shocked to learn attracts more than 400,000 leather-clad bikers to the city.

"It added a little excitement to the weekend," she joked Monday.

And as if that wasn't enough fun for one road trip, UF still had the unenviable task of finding a hotel in Oxford, Miss., the same weekend as a presidential debate.

"Luckily we got to go to Oxford the one weekend that there are no hotels to be found in the entire state," she said with a laugh. "It became a much longer road trip than we expected."

Wise said that sophomore Callie Rivers is feeling better a day after leaving the Gators' match against the Rebels during the first set with a stomach illness.

"We kind of joked later that with what that road trip was like, the fact that we only had one go down was pretty good," she said.

As the weeks march on, more and more new faces are showing up on the court - most recently, outside hitter Cassandra Anderson.

Anderson got a chance to play in the absence of the ailing Rivers.

Though she finished the match with only a single tally on the stat sheet (one kill), Wise has high hopes for the athletic freshman.

"Matt DeLancey, our strength coach, will tell you she's the best jumper that we have ever had," she said. "What we want Cassandra to be is that high-flying fast player."

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Wise also reiterated her displeasure with the way Mississippi middle blockers redirected balls over the net Sunday.

She still isn't sure why an obviously illegal play was being allowed during the match.

"The way that I understand the rule is that if you hold the ball and redirect it, that's illegal," she said. "It sure looked to me like some of those balls were being redirected."

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