By Jim Harvin
The No. 3 Florida volleyball team showed few ill-effects of its Hurricane Irma-induced, 12-day layoff by sweeping past a pair of opponents on the opening day of the Gator Invitational on Friday.
Florida improved to 6-0 on the season with 3-0 wins over Florida A&M and Northern Kentucky, respectively, and in the process made coach Mary Wise, who is in her 27th season with UF, just the fourth coach in history to record 800 wins at a Division I school.
“In terms of outblocking teams and outhitting teams, we’re just trying to be a better version of ourselves,” Wise said. “ In some areas we were better, and there were a few areas that we’re going to improve.
“The most important thing is this team has got so much potential. I’d be nervous if we were perfect. We’ve got a long season ahead of us.”
Florida defeated Northern Kentucky 25-21, 25-15 and 25-15 in the final match of the day before an Exactech Arena crowd of 2,765 in the O’Connell Center.
Senior outside hitter Carli Snyder had a double-double, registering 10 kills and 11 digs, and added four service aces en route to a match-high 14.5 points, while sophomore middle blocker Rachael Kramer had 13 kills and no errors in 17 attempts to hit a blistering .765 and finish with 13.5 points.
“I think the important thing that we’ve been really good at this year is that it hasn’t all been on at the same time, every match or every point,” Snyder said. “But someone is always finding a way to be on. Tonight we were struggling in certain areas and we were not connecting on the pins early in the match, but the middles really carried us.”
Senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan had nine kills and a match-high six block assists for 12 points, and senior libero Caroline “CK” Knop had a match-high 18 digs while redshirt junior setter Allie Monserez recorded a match-high 28 assists.
UF hit .296 for the match while holding Northern Kentucky, which was led by Drew Hendricks’ six kills, to an .047 mark.
The Gators had no trouble in their opening match, sweeping Florida A&M, 25-14, 25-21 and 25-9.
Snyder led the way with 12 kills and three service aces for a match-high 15.5 points, while Alhassan was right behind with 14.5 points on nine kills, a solo block and seven block assists.
Monserez had a match-high 21 assists with Cheyenne Huskey adding 16, and Knop led all players with 16 digs while Allie Gregory added 11.
As a team, UF hit a solid .311 and held the Rattlers to a minus-.009 mark.
Nicole Abreu led FAMU with seven kills and 13 digs.
“After not playing last week, we were really antsy to get back in the gym,” Kramer said. “Having two matches wasn’t really a bummer for us. We were more like excited.”
Today, Florida A&M meets Northern Kentucky at 5 p.m., followed by the tournament finale between the Gators and Lipscomb at 7.