The motto has been the same for Florida all year long: Find a way to win.
Sports | Volleyball
As Rachael Kramer lightly hit the ball over the net and away from the outstretched arms of a diving Stanford player, Florida's volleyball team exploded with excitement.
Sewing together articles of clothing. Knitting blankets and scarves with friends.
The last time Florida’s volleyball team reached the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, the current players on its roster were still in elementary school. Some weren’t even in kindergarten yet.
Gators senior Rhamat Alhassan sat next to redshirt senior Shainah Joseph and coach Mary Wise. Microphones were perched in front of them and a backdrop checkered with the NCAA’s logo stood behind them.
Following a Florida timeout late in the first set, freshman Paige Hammons had one job to do: pass a settable ball to one of her teammates so the Gators could tie the score at 24-all.
Just five days from Christmas 2003, the Gators volleyball team was in Dallas, hoping to win its first national title and avenge its only loss of the season against undefeated Southern California.
There was a moment of hesitation from the crowd at the O’Connell Center on Friday when Shainah Joseph struck the game-winning kill against Miami.
An intense rally and scrappy defensive plays left Shainah Joseph alone on the right side early in the fourth set.
More than 2,200 fans piled into the O'Connell Center on Thursday, eager for a full night of Florida volleyball. Just 65 minutes later, they were headed home.
A year later, they haven’t forgotten the game that got away.
Since being embarrassed by Kentucky on their home floor on Oct. 15, the Gators (25-1, 17-1 SEC) have reeled off 11 consecutive wins, including a revenge victory against the Wildcats in Lexington on Nov. 1.
It didn’t take much for Shainah Joseph to get fired up during the Gators’ final match of the regular season.
In what may have been her last home match, Carli Snyder put on a show.
Reed Arena fell silent when Rachael Kramer hit the floor with an ankle injury.
On paper, it’s not even close.
Tears, hugs and smiles filled the O’Connell Center during the pregame ceremony as the Gators honored their seniors. Caroline Knop, Lindsey Rogers, Shainah Joseph, Carli Snyder and Rhamat Alhassan were all joined by family members before defeating the Missouri Tigers in four sets, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, 25-16 .
Rachael Kramer, 6-foot-8, and Shainah Joseph, 6-foot-1, jumped in unison in front of the net, both hands in the air. Their teammate, freshman Paige Hammons, set her feet in the backcourt, bracing for Pilar Victoria’s attack, should it pass through the outstretched arms of Kramer and Joseph.
Two hours, seventeen minutes and a grueling five sets later, the Gators got the win.
She’s an athlete.