This weekend, the Florida volleyball team will begin conference play with a match against the Ole Miss Rebels. This season, the Gators are 9-3 and the Rebels will come to the Swamp with a similar 10-4 record. Last year, Florida topped Mississippi in 3 sets. Let’s take a look at how the Gators could fare against the rest of the SEC.
In 2017, the natty-bound Gators were an insane 17-1 in conference play. The one loss was at the paws of the then-No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats, who took the match in four sets. A little over two weeks later, the Gators traveled to Lexington for a rematch and walked away with a sweep.
Out of Florida’s 17 SEC wins, ten were three-set sweeps, six were won in four sets, and just one match against Arkansas lasted to five.
In the end, the Gators were named Co-Conference Champions along with the Wildcats and made it all the way to the National Championship, where they fell to Nebraska.
Last season’s roster featured four All-American seniors, plus an honorable mention.
Scouting The Season
While Florida took the dub against Nebraska this year, their non-conference record includes three more losses than last season’s did. Last season, the Gators were a perfect 7-0 in non-conference play, including two wins over then-No. 1 Texas and then-No. 5 Nebraska.
This season, Florida got its revenge on No. 2 Nebraska, but No. 3 Texas got its revenge against the Gators. Florida also lost to No. 7 Southern Cal and took a surprising 5-set L against unranked Northern Arizona.
Something the Gators lack on the court this season is experience, returning only two seniors and four juniors. Only four of those six get significant playing time (R-Sr. Allie Monserez, Sr. Taelor Kellum, Jr. Allie Gregory, and Jr. Rachael Kramer).
Besides them, a few freshman are working their ways into the mix. Superstar Thayer Hall is currently leading the team in kills and points. Marlie Monserez is getting significant playing time and making a big impact on defense. Freshman Paula Cerame is finding more and more time on the court, as well.
Coach Mary Wise harps on the fact that many of these freshmen are some of the most talented she’s ever coached. However, they are still freshmen who lack the refinement of veteran players at times.
The Gators have a shot to go in the ballpark of 17-1 in the SEC again this season.
They have racked up plenty of experience against elite teams and as Coach Wise said, she has a talented bumnch. At No. 11, Florida is the highest-ranked SEC team. Kentucky is next at No. 20 and Alabama rounds out the poll at No. 25. But, as Northern Arizona showed the team, rankings do not always make a direct impact on the outcome of the game.
But for now, all the Gators have to focus on is getting past Ole Miss. Catch the game on Friday at 7 in the O’Dome.