Redshirt senior and All-SEC team member T’ara Ceasar has played her last collegiate volleyball match.
She announced she will not compete with the Gators volleyball team in the upcoming 2021 NCAA Tournament on Instagram Monday night.
In her post, Ceasar said she will be departing from the team to focus on her mental and physical health before transitioning out of school.
“My time here has allowed me to build a more robust character, and make some amazing friends and teammates,” Ceasar said in the post. “While I will not finish the season, I still want to send love and positive wishes to my teammates and the Florida Gator volleyball family.”
The news of Ceasar’s transition comes just days before the Gators first match of the NCAA Tournament against the Florida A&M Rattlers Thursday.
Because of the dominance and elite play Ceasar brought to her team, the loss will deliver a blow to Florida’s offensive firepower.
Ceasar will finish her collegiate volleyball career with a crowded accolades cabinet. The Panama City, Florida, product earned her first All-SEC nod at the University of Georgia where she competed as a Bulldog for her first two seasons.
After transferring to Florida and sitting out her junior year due to transfer rules, Ceasar picked up right where she left off in Gainesville.
She racked up two All-SEC nominations in two seasons at Florida, as well as two potential American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American team nominations. Ceasar dominated every time she graced the O’Connell Center floor and sits in fifth place on the school’s all-time kills per set record books before her second year at Florida.
Head coach Mary Wise will rely on younger outside hitters to make up for the lost points, such as freshman Merritt Beason and sophomore Sofia Victoria. Beason broke out as a starting lineup staple this year, sitting in third place on the team in both total kills and points with 202 and 251.5, respectively. While the freshman from Gardendale, Alabama, already made a name for herself on Florida’s squad, her role will only swell with Monday’s news.
In the third set of Saturday’s match against Kentucky, Victoria scored six of the first seven points for the Gators in Ceasar’s absence. She finished the match as the team leader in kills, hitting at a .286 clip. Her deficiency in playing time this season makes Victoria less of a proven talent than Beason, but the flashes of star power offer positive signs for the Gators.
While these options have upside, none of them will fully replicate what Ceasar has done and meant to the Gators this season. With under 72 hours to determine a solution, Wise has a busy week ahead of her.
Contact Carson Cashion at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @carsoncashion.