Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sunday not only acted as a reminder of the beginning of a new volleyball season, it also marked the beginning of the end of senior libero Elyse Cusack's career at Florida.

Cusack and the UF volleyball team played in the Orange and Blue Scrimmage on Sunday in the O'Connell Center as they do every year. This one, however, was special for Cusack because it was the last one she would play in.

But as she enters her senior year, the pressure to succeed still does not supersede the excitement she feels.

"This is my last go-around and I just love playing here, there is no better place to be," Cusack said. "It gets a little emotional, but I'm excited about the season."

But, the pressure to meet expectations still exists for her, even in Sunday's intrasquad scrimmage in which players switched from one team to another. The Orange team won the first set 25-19 and the Blue team won the second set 28-26.

"There was a serve where Elyse didn't pass perfectly, and I think I heard a gasp from the fans," UF coach Mary Wise said. "She created those expectations for herself by how hard she plays each night."

After a summer of training, the players are eager to start the season, but Wise is grateful for the opportunity the scrimmage gives her.

"They are ready to play somebody else, there is no question and I think if the team had their choice, the season would start tomorrow night," she said. "But I am glad we have five more days to practice."

As Florida opens its season Friday against UNLV, the Gators are hoping their improved play near the net will help them overcome some of their weaknesses from last year.

Outside hitters Callie Rivers, Kristy Jaeckel and Colleen Ward showed big signs improvement on Sunday as they combined for 19 kills.

"I think we can be very physical from left to right and we are going to be a big-time, quick and high-jumping team," Wise said.

Although the entire starting lineup did not play together in the scrimmage, four of the probable starters in Cusack, Jaeckel, Kelly Murphy and Lauren Bledsoe team up to win the first set in a convincing fashion.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

But in the second set, players were switched around multiple times to observe how they would handle the different positions.

Although the scrimmage will not count, Wise believes Sunday was a preview of things to come.

"The best thing about being able to do this is that it is like a dress rehearsal," she said. "There is nothing we can do in practice that has this kind of game-like feel to it."

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.