The first home match of the 2018 season for the Florida volleyball team began with players jumping with glee and throwing T-shirts into the stands. It ended with those same players jumping with desperation trying to block No. 7 USC’s spikes and throwing their arms up in frustration.
Sports | Volleyball
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.
Graduating four starting All-Americans isn’t ideal for any team in any sport. Losing multiple senior leaders usually gives way to a follow-up year headed by confused underclassmen.
Coach Mary Wise has built one of the premier programs in Gator athletics. Since 1991, Wise has constructed a volleyball program that is constantly at the top and rarely struggles to find its footing.
The Gators’ side of the court at the Devaney Sports Center grew quiet as the team gathered in the middle for one last huddle, their faces as white as their jerseys. An attacking error by UF handed the No. 3 team in the nation a 12-10 lead in the deciding set.
It’s rare to start any sports season the way it ended.
Thayer Hall is as advertised
Things were supposed to be different this time for Florida’s volleyball team.
The relentless hustle of Nebraska and a night riddled with miscues doomed Florida’s chances of winning its first NCAA title in program history, capping off what was otherwise a solid season for UF after reaching the Final Four for the first time since 2003.
The motto has been the same for Florida all year long: Find a way to win.
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.