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Friday, April 19, 2024

The UF volleyball team's season may be months away, but winning still feels good, especially against a rival.

The team went 6-0 against in-state rivals FSU, Miami and Florida International in its spring session at Florida Gym.

"Whenever they're keeping score, you want to win," freshman Kelly Murphy said. "There's a reason there's a scoreboard."

The six matches were considerably more than the two matches per weekend the team is used to playing.

"It's a little exhausting," junior Elyse Cusack said. "This is a lot different, but I thought we did a great job. It was a great experience for us."

Even though the spring matches don't carry any weight come fall, UF coach Mary Wise said it's an opportunity for the team to see progress in areas it has focused on during the off-season.

"We have a spent a lot of energy this spring on point-scoring, serving aces, kills and blocking," Wise said. "We're a much better blocking team than we were in the fall."

Wise said blocking comes with experience, something her team lacked in the fall when it had seven freshmen and three sophomores.

The Gators started off in the morning, winning in straight sets against the Golden Panthers (25-21, 27-25). They moved on to their next opponent, the Seminoles, and beat them in three sets, dropping the first set 21-25 before reeling off the next two sets 25-21, 15-10.

UF finished its first round of matches against Miami and won in straight sets (25-23, 25-22).

In the second round, the Gators played the Hurricanes again. It took three sets, but the end result was the same - another UF win (25-17, 25-17, 13-15).

UF played FIU and swept the Golden Panthers a second time before playing its most contested match against FSU to end the tournament.

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The Gators dropped the first set against the Seminoles 23-25, but much like their first matchup of the day, UF came out on top in the second and third sets (25-23, 16-14).

"It's nice to see the other competition," sophomore Lauren Bledsoe said. "To see if we've improved as a team, to see if everything that we've been working on is the right thing to be working on."

Wise said the spring session helped simulate competition that can't be created in practice.

"You try and simulate drills like that, but it's not the same," Wise said. "All of those experiences (Saturday) will help us in the fall."

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