**** This game has been canceled due to Hurricane Irma ****
A little over a year ago, the Florida volleyball team marched into East Lansing and swept Michigan State on its home court.
Today, the Spartans will look to return the favor.
The No. 2 Gators (4-0) are slated to take on No. 21 Michigan State (5-1) in the O’Connell Center at 5 p.m., the only match from this weekend’s Active Ankle Challenge still being played.
The challenge originally featured appearances by Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina Greensboro and American, but due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, the competition was scaled back to only the Florida-Michigan State match.
The Gators are led by sophomore middle blocker Rachael Kramer, who sits at eighth in the nation with a .494 hitting percentage.
Kramer was a huge part of Florida’s back-to-back upsets over top-five teams to open the season, including a career day against Nebraska in which she spiked a game-winner, part of a personal-best 20-kill performance.
Kramer was subsequently honored with player of the week awards from the SEC, AVCA and espnW.
“It’s nice to get personal recognition,” Kramer said after picking up the accolades, “but I’m almost more proud of the wins we have this season, and it’s hard to get those recognitions I did this week without my teammates.”
One of Kramer’s teammates, senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan, leads the Gators with 25 total blocks and ranks 13th in the NCAA in blocks per set.
Alhassan will be met by Michigan State senior middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink, who is third in the nation in the same category.
The Spartans’ top five attackers — all seniors — account for 230 of the team’s 259 kills this year, including 52 from Garvelink.
The Gators will also be tasked with defending one of the top serving teams in the country.
The Spartans are second nationally in service aces per set (2.37) and boast senior setter Rachel Minarick, who ranks fifth in the country in individual service aces per set (0.75).
This match, however, is far from the first challenge the Gators will face this season. Michigan State will be Florida’s fourth ranked opponent in its first five matches.
“Being able to win when things aren’t going well is a skill we love to have here at Florida, and one we didn’t necessarily have last year,” senior libero Caroline Knop said. “Against a good Kentucky team, we kind of crumbled. Against a good Missouri team, we didn’t find a way to fight.”
Whether it was upsetting No. 1 Texas and No. 5 Nebraska, or staying focused and pulling off consecutive sweeps last weekend at the SEC-ACC Challenge, the 2017 Gators have shown they’ve learned how to handle adversity.
Their next test? Handling Michigan State.