Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Sunday, May 29, 2022
<p>Despite registering a season-high 17 kills against Northern Arizona on Friday night, middle blocker Rachael Kramer and the No. 8 Gators fell in five sets. </p>

Despite registering a season-high 17 kills against Northern Arizona on Friday night, middle blocker Rachael Kramer and the No. 8 Gators fell in five sets. 

After splitting its first two matches last weekend in the VERT Challenge, the No. 4 Florida volleyball team enters the Bubly Invitational with its third top-ten matchup of the season against No. 7 USC today in the O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. The team will then face Louisville on Saturday and UCF on Sunday.

 

The Second Trojan War

The Gators start the three-match invitational with a rematch of the emotional, five-set win over the Trojans in the 2017 season to advance to the final four in the NCAA tournament.

In 2018, both teams will face off with lots of confidence.

USC (3-0) opened its regular season with three wins over Northern Iowa and Creighton, as well as UF’s conference rival, Kentucky.

In those matches, the Trojans were led by the offensive ability of the outside hitting duo of sophomore Brooke Botkin and junior Khalia Lanier.

 

Two Birds, One Stone

Botkin and Lanier combined for exactly 100 kills over the three matches played, including a 45-kill performance from the pair in the five-set win over Creighton on Aug. 25.

Florida (1-1) will look to counter this with junior middle blocker Rachael Kramer and her solid defense in front of the net, something that the team did not see in the loss against Texas on Saturday.

In that loss, Kramer failed to meet the high expectations on the defensive end after she recorded only four block assists and allowed Longhorns’ freshman middle blocker Brionne Butler to record nine kills on just 14 swings.

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

Coach Mary Wise indicated that this was something to work on.

“A big thing we learned against Texas was what it was like to play without Rhamat Alhassan,” Wise said. “Someone like Brionne Butler could just jump over our blocks, even with our size.”

In 2017, Alhassan registered 195 blocks and averaged a nation-leading 1.70 blocks per set. Even with Kramer’s disappointing start to the season, the team is still hopeful that she can fill the hole Alhassan left.

Wise also talked about redshirt sophomore Mia Sokolowski and her ability to play outside hitting positions on both the left and right side of the court. Wise noted that she hopes to get her more touches this weekend.

Other individual matchups will be crucial for Florida against this well-rounded USC team.

 

Power vs. Patience

A highly anticipated battle will be freshman outside hitter Thayer Hall and her powerful offense against senior libero Victoria Garrick’s defense in the back row for the Trojans.

Hall, who won SEC Freshman of the Week on the back of her 41 kills in the two matches last weekend, will be tested by one of the best liberoes in the country.

Garrick has anchored her team’s defense so far this season, leading her team in digs in two of the three matches and tallied 23 digs against Creighton. However, the coaching staff for the Gators remains confident in Hall and the rest of the team to penetrate that defense.

“We know a whole lot more about our team,” Wise said. “Nothing we could do in practice could replicate what we saw against [Nebraska and Texas] …We are excited for this weekend.”

 

Dylan Rudolph is a sports writer. Follow him on Twitter @dyrudolph and contact him at drudolph@alligator.org.

Despite registering a season-high 17 kills against Northern Arizona on Friday night, middle blocker Rachael Kramer and the No. 8 Gators fell in five sets. 

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 © 2022 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.