As the 2023 American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll was announced Tuesday, the Gators found themselves in a familiar spot. This year marked the 32nd consecutive season that Florida will start the season ranked in the top-15.
UF had an impressive run in 2022. The team finished 15-3 in SEC conference play, leading to a 25-6 record in the regular season. Florida would later go on to bring home their 25th SEC championship in program history.
Although the squad came up short of their overall goal in the NCAA tournament, there is room for optimism heading into 2023. The Gators will bring back a talented core group of players that will propel them throughout this season. Sophomore setter, Alexis Stucky, will return as the team’s leader in assists from a year ago. Sofia Victoria is back for her senior year at outside hitter. Victoria had more kills last year than anyone who is returning to the Gators roster in 2023. Florida also had an impressive recruiting haul which will feature a Freshman class that will come in hungry for playing time.
The team will matchup with elite competition throughout the entirety of their schedule in 2023. As the the coaches poll currently stands, the Gators are set to face five top-15 opponents during this season’s campaign. Florida will waste no time matching up with their fierce competition as they start their season on the road at the Road 2 Tampa Bay invitational to battle No. 8 ranked Penn State on August 25th at 8:00 p.m.
After the invitational concludes, the road doesn’t get any easier for the Gators. On August 29th, Florida will travel to Stanford, California, to take on the No. 3 ranked Cardinal. Then, they will return home to Gainesville where the Golden Gophers of Minnesota will be waiting for them on September 3rd. Other ranked opponents the team will see in 2023 include No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 11 Kentucky and No. 25 Arkansas.
After another successful season last year, the conference looks at Florida as one of the strongest teams in the SEC once again this fall. The Gators were picked to finish second in the preseason SEC coaches poll while receiving two first place votes. Division foe, Kentucky, was selected as the favorite to bring home the SEC crown this year over Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas who round out the top 5 selections.
Led by Head Coach, Mary Wise, the Florida volleyball program has become prestigious over the years. The team will look look to build on last year’s success in order to take them to new heights in 2023. The Gators first glimpse of action will be Sunday, August 20th, as they host a scrimmage against Stetson at 2:30 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.