UF faces Florida St. to open NCAA

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ORLANDO — The 16th-ranked Florida Gators volleyball team begins the NCAA Tournament with a matchup against Florida State at 4:30 p.m. today.

UCF (27-3) is serving as the host for the first and second rounds of the tournament, with Thursday’s and Friday’s matches taking place in The Venue. Thursday’s match will air on UCFKnights.tv. Tickets for the first and second rounds can be located at UCF Ticket Office’s website.

The Knights play Florida Gulf Coast (26-6) at 7 p.m. today. Thursday’s winners will meet at 7 p.m. Friday.

Florida (24-6) holds the 41-20 series advantage over the Seminoles (19-9), including a 34-6 record under coach Mary Wise. UF also holds the NCAA series advantage between the two squads, leading 3-2.

The Gators defeated FSU the last time the two teams met on Sept. 12 in Tallahassee. UF won the first two sets, 25-22, before falling 25-16 in the third. The Gators were able to close out the match with a 25-19 victory in the fourth.

Thayer Hall paced the Florida offense, posting 14 kills during the match. Rachael Kramer added 11 of her own, while Holly Carlton pitched in nine. Allie Monserez recorded a team-leading 20 assists on her way to a double-double (20 assists, 10 digs). As a squad, Florida recorded 13.0 blocks, led by six from Rachael Kramer and five from Holly Carlton.

The Gators are looking for their 25th win this season, which would extend their current streak to 28 consecutive seasons.

Teams winning second-round matches will move on to regional play Dec. 7 and 8. Regionals for the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held at four non-predetermined campus sites, which will be announced after play concludes, on Saturday. At each site, four teams will compete in single-elimination regional semifinal competition.

The regional winners will advance to the national semifinals and championship final, hosted by Minnesota, on Dec. 13 and 15 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.