The Florida Gators’ volleyball team was acknowledged as a top program in the Southeastern Conference and country Sunday. Multiple players received SEC honors, and the team was placed in the National Collegiate Athletics Association tournament.

Florida’s season came to a close Nov. 27 when it defeated Ole Miss in a five-set thriller. The No. 12 Gators beat the Rebels, 3-2, to earn themselves the title of Co-Champion of the conference.

With a 23-5 record, Florida was given the tie-break to get an automatic bid into the tournament.

In the NCAA’s seeding, the Gators earned the No. 3 spot of the top right region and have the privilege of hosting the first two rounds of the tournament. 

Their first match of the tournament will come against Florida A&M Friday. With a win, Florida would move on to play the winner of Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 6 Iowa State. Both matches would take place in Gainesville.

If Florida advances far enough in the tournament, Wisconsin is the No. 1 seed in its region of the bracket. The last time the teams met, the Badgers set the NCAA regular season volleyball attendance record, but the Gators pulled off the upset.

Freshman Alexis Stucky tied her season high with 45 assists in the game, as Florida won in foreign territory, The then-promising freshman developed into one of the best players in the SEC.

Her most recent accomplishment came when she earned a spot on the All-SEC Team and SEC All-Freshman Team and was named SEC Freshman of the Year. 

Stucky had an impressive season. Her 1,083 assists made her the second Gator to pass the mark in their first collegiate year. She was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Division I Player of the Week, SEC Player of the Week twice, SEC Setter of the Week twice and SEC Freshman of the Week five times.

Now, her first regular season ends with her earning the title of SEC Freshman of the Year.

Senior Marina Markova and sophomore Merritt Beason joined Stucky on the All-SEC team. The players combined to form a dangerous duo of outside hitters.

Stucky, Beason and Markova will lead the Gators when they take the court against the Rattlers Friday at 7 p.m.

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