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Friday, March 01, 2024

UF coach Mary Wise is calling upon a power greater than herself to fix her team's recent middle-blocking struggles.

Senior Kelsey Bowers took a step back in recovering from a back injury and went to see a specialist on Monday, and junior Kristina Johnson is still not at 100 percent after off-season ACL surgery.

"Right now, we're looking for a few medical miracles," Wise said. "That would probably be the No. 1 thing that would really help."

After getting beaten up at the net against Georgia in the team's first conference loss of the season, it is no secret the Gators (17-2, 11-1 Southeastern Conference) have been missing production from their middles.

"What we're going to do is go back to the drawing board and figure out how can we block balls," Wise said. "It's been a huge weakness of ours, and it really came back to haunt us this weekend."

In-game blocking isn't the only thing suffering from a lack of presence in the middle of the court.

In Sunday's match, the Gators' three outside hitters turned in sub-par efforts, which, according to Wise, stem from the lack of quality blocking they're up against in practice.

"We're not a great blocking team, so our hitters don't see great blocking in practice either," she said. "We just have to block balls to score points against our opponents, and we have to block balls in practice to make our own team better."

Nittany Lions impress Wise:

The NCAA's decision to shorten matches from 30 points was made in order to level the playing field.

Wise has said many times that Gators fans should not expect as many 3-0 wins, as anything can happen in a shortened set.

Which is exactly why Wise had such high praise for No. 1 Penn State (22-0, 10-0 Big Ten), who hasn't dropped a single set all season.

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"It is unbelievable, at a 25-point set, that Penn State is going through a league, as good as the Big Ten is, undefeated like that," she said. "They're just in a different orbit than the rest of us."

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