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Friday, March 31, 2023

When UF associate head coach Nick Cheronis addressed the media on Monday, he attributed the Gators' recent success largely to timing.

Last week, UF defeated South Carolina, a team that was missing two key players, and Auburn, which was without coach Wade Benson who was out with an illness.

"When you're trying to win a Southeastern Conference championship, you have to have a little luck," Cheronis said. "We had some luck this week."

As for the next two matchups, the No. 8 Gators (16-1, 10-0) head to LSU on Friday before taking on Georgia in Athens on Sunday.

Contrary to the previous two matches, Cheronis called the upcoming opponents bubble NCAA Tournament teams, and he said he believes that will fuel them to putting up a worthy effort against his squad.

"They both need significant wins, and to beat us would be significant wins for both of them," he said.

FRIENDLY SCHEDULING: Wednesday's midweek game against South Carolina was part of a demanding stretch for the Gators, who played four matches in seven days after defeating Auburn on Friday.

As a reward, the team earned a much-needed break. The Gators were not slated for a weekend contest for the first time all season, enabling the players and coaches to take a little time for themselves.

"First, I reintroduced myself to my wife," said Cheronis of how he used his freedom.

With UF halfway through the SEC schedule, Cheronis said the break came at a perfect time for his team.

"We're right in the middle, right in the tunnel," he said. "We don't remember how it started, and we sure don't know when it's going to end, so we certainly needed a day to regroup from that standpoint."

BOWERS NEARING 100 PERCENT: The Gators are starting to click offensively, and the reemergence of senior Kelsey Bowers has been a big reason.

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The 6-foot-2 middle blocker has dealt with a back injury since the beginning of the year but is finally showing signs of filling those preseason, All-SEC shoes.

"She's very close to where she was a year ago," Cheronis said.

Bowers still hasn't been able to practice every day, but is missing less and less time as the season progresses.

Cheronis gave two things to look for when evaluating her health: her explosiveness when hitting the slide play and her involvement in blocking balls.

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