Fall Sports

Mount Rushmore: Gators Volleyball

Photo by Jamie Schwaberow / Getty Images

While Florida volleyball had humble beginnings after the program’s birth in 1984, as the program aged, it has become one of the most decorated sports on campus. 

With a program that boasts a .829 win percentage through 35 seasons, a statement can be made with certainty that a plethora of elite athletes have waltzed in and out of the program since it’s beginning 35 years ago. 

In the event that athletic director Scott Stricklin decided to recognize Florida volleyball’s “best of the best” and construct the Mount Rushmore of Florida volleyball, which players would be chiseled in stone?

Aury Cruz – 2000-2003

Assuming that everyone, everywhere needs a Mount Rushmore to celebrate great athletes, Cruz would more than likely be found not only on the University of Florida volleyball’s Mount Rushmore, but also Puerto Rico volleyball’s Mount Rushmore and possibly the NCAA volleyball’s Mount Rushmore. She was that good. 

During her time as a Gator, Cruz won the SEC Championship all four years of her career as well as guiding the Gators to their first ever NCAA final, where they lost to the USC Trojans. 

Cruz’s name crowds the Florida volleyball record book as she holds the school record for career kills with an impressive 1,815 and career points with 2,188.5.

Cruz also has a list of accolades that goes on for miles. Highlighting her accomplishments are two MVP selections for the NCAA Final Four (2002, 2003), three time SEC Player of the Year awards (2001, 2002, 2003) and a three time AVCA All-America selections (2001, 2002, 2003). 

Cruz went on to represent her home country of Puerto Rico in the 2016 Rio Olympic games. 

Kelly Murphy – 2008-2011

Kelly Murphy represented Florida in a time where the Florida Gators were nationally recognized for being a powerhouse all across the board. With men’s basketball and football claiming national titles, Florida’s national presence was greater than ever before. 

For Florida volleyball, although unseeded they were able to make a decently deep run into the NCAA Tournament, making it into the Final Four before being eliminated by Illinois. All the while, Kelly Murphy, even as a freshman made considerable impact. 

As she finished up her freshman year at Florida, Murphy was awarded the 2008 AVCA Freshman of the Year award, becoming the first Gator to win the honor. Murphy made it known quickly what kind of player she would be when only 27 matches into her college career, she broke the school record for career triple-doubles; a record that still stands today. 

Murphy continued to surge into her junior year where she yielded an AVCA All-America selection as well as winning the 2010 SEC Player of the Year award. 

Once her career at Florida was through, Kelly Murphy went on to represent Team USA in the 2016 Rio Olympic games. 

Angie McGinnis – 2004-2007

Much like Kelly Murphy, McGinnis was at the University of Florida during a prime period. She saw a national championship in both football and men’s basketball as well as a Heisman winner. 

As for her time with the volleyball team, her career was nothing shy of impressive. 

In 2004, McGinnis took home SEC Freshman of the Year honors as she set the assists per game record at UF with an average of 11.03. As a sophomore, McGinnis spent the summer with the USA National Team during the 2005 Pan-American Cup. 

McGinnis’ accolades really piled up during her junior year as she was named an AVCA first-team All-American, Volleyball Magazine first-team All-American, Volleyball Magazine Most Improved Player in the Nation, SEC Player of the Year, and Ben Hill Griffin’s award for UF’s top female athlete. 

While her senior year died down in terms of honors, McGinnis was still an AVCA second-team All-American selection; becoming just the fourth player in school history to be named an All-American three times. McGinnis also claimed the 2007 SEC Player of the Year award for the second consecutive year. 

McGinnis also went on to represent the United States as she joined the women’s national team at the conclusion of her senior season. 

Rhamat Alhassan – 2014-2017

If you pay attention to Florida volleyball, Alhassan’s name likely sounds very familiar; and it absolutely should. Alhassan is the most recent Gator to be chiseled onto the Florida volleyball Mount Rushmore after her storied career. 

As a freshman, Alhassan won the Freshman of the Year award for both the SEC and the AVCA Southeast region. She also led the country in hitting efficiency at .458… as a freshman.

Alhassan’s impressive career at Florida continued in 2015 where, as a sophomore, she was second in the country in blocks with 189 as well as setting the UF record for most blocks in a game (14) during the 2015 season opener against James Madison. 

Alhassan finished her career in glorious fashion as she again won award after award and continued to lead the nation in the stat book. 

As a senior in 2017, Alhassan led the nation with 1.70 blocks per set, becoming the first SEC player to lead that category. In 2017, Alhassan also won the 2017 SEC Player of the Year award as well as the 2016-2017 Honda Sport Award winner for volleyball, becoming the first Gator to win the honor. 

During her career at Florida, Alhassan became just the second player in Division I history to record at least 1,250 kills, 605 blocks and a .420 clip before going on to win a gold medal in the 2017 Pan-American cup. 

Inspired by Steve Russell’s radio show, Sports Scene, we have opted to determine the Mount Rushmore of each UF program that we cover. Let us know if you agree or if there are any omissions. 
Also, we chose to omit coaches intentionally and will do a totally separate post on the top coaches at UF.

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