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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Florida travels to Sacramento to begin 2021 season at Hornet Invitational

The Gators are set to compete against San Francisco, UC Davis and Sacramento State

<p>The Florida volleyball team huddles in a game against LSU in 2019. Florida fell to Stanford Tuesday night 3-1. </p>

The Florida volleyball team huddles in a game against LSU in 2019. Florida fell to Stanford Tuesday night 3-1.

The Florida volleyball team begins its 2021 season traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast this weekend. 

The Gators launch their 2021 season at the Hornet Invitational in Sacramento, California, on Friday and Saturday. Florida’s first match is versus the San Francisco Dons at 7 p.m. before it is double-booked Saturday for matches against the UC Davis Aggies and the Sacramento State Hornets. 

No. 6 Florida played San Francisco once in program history, back on Sept. 8, 1995 in Santa Barbara, California. The Gators swept the match 3-0 (15-3, 15-7, 15-3). This will be Florida’s first time battling UC Davis or Sacramento State. 

Of the four teams in 2020, Florida had the highest hitting efficiency (0.278) and most kills per set (13.6), blocks per set (2.8), total blocks (242) and assists per set (12.8), per a head-to-head 2020 statistical matchup. UC Davis fared better in opponent efficiency (0.232) and assists (1,310); San Francisco dominated each team in digs per set (16.2) and Sacramento State notched more aces per set (1.7). 

The Gators lost four seniors to graduation and three former players to the NCAA Transfer Portal after the 2020-2021 season. However, the team returned nine players, including notable stars from 2020 like Thayer Hall, T’ara Ceasar, Marlie Monserez and Lauren Forte, along with four incoming freshmen to fill the gaps. 

The freshmen roster of Trinity Adams, Merritt Beason, Gabrielle Essix and Bre Kelley bring high school state championships, numerous accolades, national team experience and Under Armour All-American honors with them to Florida. 

Head volleyball coach Mary Wise enters her 31st season at Florida, the longest-tenured coach in school history. Two wins separate Wise from claiming her 900th at UF, which would make her the second female coach in Division I history to reach said milestone at a single school. Wise also sits 21 wins away from achieving her 1,000 overall career win. She would become the first female Division I head coach to hit that milestone. 

The first serve for Florida’s season is set for Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.

Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at kwadulack@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @kwadulack.

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