Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Thursday, April 25, 2024

Before their last match against No. 3 Washington, coach Mary Wise said it wasn't often that the Gators were forced to take the underdog role, as they did in that showdown.

But that unusual circumstance will be short-lived as UF heads into league play looking for its 19th straight conference title.

No. 5 Florida (6-1) will try to continue its dominance of the Southeastern Conference tonight as it will begin league play on the road against Ole Miss (6-4) at 8 p.m. before facing Arkansas (6-5) at 2 p.m. Sunday.

After a tough nonconference schedule that featured three ranked opponents, the Gators view at league play as a chance to start fresh.

"This weekend, everybody starts on common ground, we are all 0-0," coach Mary Wise said. "Before, any win just bettered the league. Now, you have to hunker down and just take care of your own."

The Gators will continue their longest road trip since 2003 and play their first two conference matches away from Gainesville for the first time in three years.

Tonight's road match against the Rebels might prove to be one of the tougher ones they will see in the SEC. Not only because of Ole Miss' scrappy nature, but in large part because of the unusual venue they will play in. The volleyball court at the Gillom Sports Center is located at the end of a field house and has very little room to chase down balls.

"It's a pretty unique place to play in," senior libero Elyse Cusack said. "It's a small facility and it can get super loud. You just have to keep the communication up and try to calm the crowd down."

As if that didn't pose enough of an obstacle already, UF will be sure to get the best effort from Ole Miss or any other SEC team they face.

"Winning 18 straight conference titles is a big deal, and we know that we are going to get every team's best shot on the road," Cusack said.

But if history repeats itself, the Gators will have a successful weekend. The team has won its first two games against SEC opponents in 10 of the last 11 seasons and has won all 18 league openers under Wise.

While UF may have already faced the toughest opponents on its schedule already, the team will have to overcome another obstacle in the SEC.

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

"The difference in league play is there are no secrets," Wise said. "That target on our back hasn't gotten any smaller, but that's what we've become used to."

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.