COLUMBIA, Mo. – The No. 3 Florida fought off a gritty Missouri squad to clinch a share of the program’s 23rd Southeastern Conference title. It is the second consecutive SEC title for the Gators.
Florida’s 23 league titles are the 10th-most in SEC history across all sports, regardless of gender. Moreover, the Gators’ 23 SEC titles are the fourth-most of any sport, regardless of gender, since the league’s first season of volleyball in 1979.
“For (the seniors), this team has worked so hard and their mantra has been ‘find a way.’ And they did,” UF coach Mary Wise said. ‘They found a way in the second set to make this happen. For them, when they come back years later and they get to see the banner, those are special moments. They’re part of history. Sometimes titles help you recognize that easier.”
Though the title is shared by Florida (25-1 overall) and Kentucky, both of which finished with 17-1 records in conference play, the Gators will be awarded the “automatic qualifying” berth for the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning four sets compared to three in their two head-to-head matchups with the Wildcats.
The victory also marks Wise’s 900th career win, making her the third female head coach in NCAA history (all three divisions) to reach the 900-win plateau. Wise is already the all-time wins leader among Division I female head coaches.
Redshirt senior Shainah Joseph continued her absurd hot streak with a 19-kill outing. The All-SEC right side had just two errors on 40 swings and hit a remarkably efficient .425. All-SEC middle blocker Rachael Kramer tallied 14 kills and hit .478, while two-time All-SEC outside hitter Carli Snyder joined her in double figures with 10 kills.
The surprise performance of the match came from sophomore outside hitter Morgyn Greer, who set a career high with 10 points and matched her career high for kills (nine). Greer’s .429 hitting percentage was a season high.
After dropping the first set, 25-23, the Gators trailed 19-12 in the second set. Four dual blocks by 2017 SEC Player of the Year Rhamat Alhassan, who had a match-high eight roofs, and redshirt junior setter Allie Monserez fueled a 14-3 run that gave Florida a 23-22 lead. The Gators lost their first set point, fought off a Missouri set point, and dropped two more set point chances before a Tigers attack error gave them a 29-27 win.
Florida opened the third set on a 12-3 run, with kills from five different Gators. It went on to register a .483 clip and take a 25-15 win. The Gators led the majority of the fourth set, but they broke a 23-23 tie with a kill from Joseph and a dual block from Alhassan and Joseph to clinch the match.
Missouri finished at 20-11, 13-5.