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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

After being selected to the NCAA Tournament field for the 19th consecutive season, the Gators should be accustomed to the postseason by now – but that isn’t the case.

Florida doesn’t know what to expect this weekend as it has only has played a combined three matches all time under Mary Wise against the three teams in its first and second round bracket — College of Charleston, FIU and Miami.

No. 14 UF (23-5, 16-4 Southeastern Conference) will begin the tournament against College of Charleston (18-12, 12-4 Southern Conference) at 7:30 tonight in the O’Connell Center.

Although the Gators and Cougars don’t have too much of a history, the one time they did matchup was in a similar situation – the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

The unfamiliarity between the four teams comes as a change to the Gators.

“It’s way different. In the SEC you play teams twice,” opposite hitter Callie Rivers said. “You pretty much know people’s names, numbers and tendencies within the conference. When going into these games you really don’t know anything about the teams.”

Although the players will not have the chance to view mountains of film on the Cougars, coach Mary Wise has spent all week studying UF’s first-round opponent.

From what she has seen, College of Charleston runs a fast offense and block exceptionally well.

 “Once we get to the tournament we get limited video on each opponent,” senior Elyse Cusack said. “We’ll really only watch video on them (the Cougars) one time. But then we get the opportunity to scout FIU and Miami for the second round, so we’ll see them on video and playing live.”

The nonconference schedule has prepared the team well for this situation. In each of UF’s first three tournaments of the season, it played two matches against unfamiliar opponents on consecutive days.

The key to playing against these types of teams is the ability to make adjustments on the fly, Wise said.

“It’s actually more fun because you kind of make an adjustment during the match,” Cusack said. “You’ll see teams do new things during the match that maybe we didn’t see on video, so it’s a different challenge.”

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Four Gators Named All-SEC: UF may not have won the conference this season, but it was still able to tie for the most players named to All-SEC teams.

Kentucky, Tennessee and UF all saw four of its players earn the honor.

On Monday, sophomores Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy were named to the All-SEC First Team.

Murphy has been a triple threat all season long and currently leads the nation with nine triple-doubles. As a setter, whose primary job is to pass, she is still second in the conference with a .370 hitting efficiency.

Meanwhile, Cusack and sophomore Colleen Ward earned second-team honors.

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