It didn’t take much for Shainah Joseph to get fired up during the Gators’ final match of the regular season.
After dropping the opening set, No. 3 Florida (25-1, 17-1 SEC) used that anger as momentum to come back and take the match, 3-1, against Missouri (20-11, 13-5 SEC) on Saturday in Columbia, Missouri.
In what may have been her last home match, Carli Snyder put on a show.
Joseph carried the team with 19 kills and 40 total attacks to help take down the Tigers.
“Bringing energy is my superpower for my team…,” Joseph said in a postgame interview. “I think that is the least I can do.”
The win marked coach Mary Wise’s 900th career win in 31 seasons of coaching and earned the Gators a share the 2017 SEC Title.
Florida struggled during the first set with multiple net violations and hitting errors. Contributions to the 25-23 opening set loss came from six hitting errors and only 16 kills out of 40 total attacks.
Despite an early lead in the second set, Florida hit a rut when the Tigers gained a lead of seven points in the middle of the second set.
Florida gained some momentum to bring the score within four when Missouri called their first time out of the match. Between Joseph and Wise, the team finished out the set strong.
After a lot of back and forth action and intense rallies, the Gators fought back to reclaim a strong position and took the set 29-27.
Tied 1-all, Florida came out like a new team in the third set. Multiple kills from middle blockers Rhamat Alhassan and Rachael Kramer and outside pin hitters Carli Snyder and Morgyn Greer were key factors in their set win against the Tigers.
Greer reached a season high of nine kills, beating her previous best of just three kills, while Kramer’s consistency proved to be a valuable weapon against the Tigers, notching 14 kills.
The Gators took down the Tigers 25-15 in the third set, with a set-point kill from Kramer used as momentum to finish out the match in the fourth set.
Redshirt senior Melanie Crow carried Missouri throughout the match. Her 17 kills helped keep the Tigers within reach of taking down the No. 3-seeded Gators at home.
Despite great efforts from Crow, she made some crucial fourth set errors that helped the Gators gain an advantage over the Tigers.
Florida and Missouri stayed within three points of one another for the entire fourth set, often battling point for point against each other.
Putting up a fight, the Gators took the match with a 25-23 set win over the Tigers, claiming the 2017 SEC Title, shared with the Kentucky Wildcats, and marking the Gators second-straight conference championship.
“Winning the SEC today is a great symbolism of how much work we’ve put in these past few months,” Joseph said.
The next step for the Gators will be awaiting the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship bracket selections, which will be announced on Sunday. The first round of competition will take place on Thursday, Nov. 30th.
You can follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari, and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.