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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Patience isn't a virtue that Callie Rivers is fond of.

After playing an extensive role during the early part of the season for the Gators, the sophomore outside hitter has all but fallen out of the UF rotation.

She didn't play at all in last weekend's match against Georgia and played only sparingly in UF's win against LSU.

UF coach Mary Wise said that Rivers' playing-time reduction is due to the number of talented players she has to choose from at the position.

"We're going with whoever has the hot hand," Wise said. "There aren't enough spots for everyone to play all the time."

The main reason for Rivers' relegation to the bench is the sudden emergence of freshman Colleen Ward, who has led the team in kills in each of the Gators' last two games.

While Rivers said that she is OK with the decision to incorporate more of the team's young players at the position, she would obviously prefer to be on the court.

"Nobody likes to not play," she said. "I think we have so many different lineups that we can use as a weapon, so whatever works as long as we're winning."

Rivers will hope to work her way back into the rotation when the No. 10 Gators (8-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) try to avenge their only loss of the 2007 SEC season tonight at Arkansas (4-7, 1-0 SEC).

Growing up with three brothers, Rivers didn't have the luxury of taking things slow.

Whether it was a race to the car or who got to drink the last glass of orange juice, there was not a lot of sitting around in the Rivers' home.

"Everything was a competition in my household," she said.

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So it's no surprise that she hasn't taken a liking to the bench.

Despite her diminished role, Rivers still views herself as one of the team's motivational leaders.

"I hate to lose, so if we're anywhere near losing, I'm going to try to motivate anyone around me," Rivers said.

If history is any indication, she won't have to worry about losing anytime soon, though.

The Gators are 24-2 all-time against the Razorbacks.

Rivers is still searching for her role on a team that is the youngest and perhaps one of the most talented of the Wise era.

But then again, fighting for her spot has never been a problem for Rivers.

"Our team is very competitive and because I'm very competitive, it helps," she said.

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