Florida can’t hold back BYU in NCAAs

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Holly Carlton led the UF offense Friday night vs. BYU, posting 16 kills during the match. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/File]

Special to Gatorsports.com

PROVO, Utah — Florida jumped to a 1-0 lead BYU in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament regional semifinal Friday, but couldn’t keep the fourth-seeded Cougars from rallying in the 3-1 loss.

“Hat’s off to BYU,” said Florida coach Mary Wise, who has more Division I wins than any female coach in NCAA history. “That’s a very good team that played well tonight after the first set. You can see why they are where they are, with their offense and defense.”

BYU (30-1) will play fifth-seeded Texas (23-4) at 8 p.m. Saturday in the regional final, the launching pad to next week’s national semifinals. The Longhorns dropped Michigan 3-1 in the other regional semi Friday at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse.

No. 16 Florida’s season ends at 26-7 after falling by scores of 23-25, 25-13, 25-17 and 25-19 in front of a sellout crowd of 5,104, the third-largest crowd to watch women’s volleyball in arena history.

“Being at home was obviously super helpful,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “The crowd was unbelievable. I want to thank the crowd and obviously recognize them for showing up today and supporting us.

Holly Carlton led the UF offense on Friday night, posting 16 kills during the match. Paige Hammons added 11 of her own, while Mia Sokolowski pitched in eight. Allie Monserez dished out a team-best 21 assists – her 31st time leading the Gators in that category this season.

Allie Gregory led the backcourt defense for Florida, posting 13 digs on the night. That was her 30th time leading the team in digs this season. Marlie Monserez recorded her second double-double of the season, registering 11 assists and 10 digs.

As a squad, the Gators notched 8.0 blocks, led by a team-best four by Holly Carlton.

“After the first set, we knew to be successful, we would need to be so clean and get a little bit of help,” Wise said. “After the first set, BYU became very stingy with the points they were giving away.

“For our team to come in and battle, after all the injuries and as young as we are, I could not be more proud of himself. We came in here and battled hard.”

16 COMMENTS

  1. Another great year, with fantastic promise for next year. It would have been nice to shut down BYU and its idiotic fans mocking the Gator chomp (pro tip: come up with your own signature move, besides being relentlessly holier than thou bores, and you might find your way to actual fun). So fortunate to have a great coach like Mary Wise.

  2. Great rebuilding year. The Gators were certainly a top 16 team but clearly not a top 8 team. The Gators have lacked an athletic monster spiker for a long time. You apparently don’t develop one but have to recruit her. Competition for the best recruits is intense. But the Gators represented the Gator Nation well and we are all proud of their season. ON TO SOFTBALL.

  3. Gator VBall is best in SEC, but the goal is to be best in the nation. Coach Wise has not accomplished that in granted an amazing career. It’s time to find a new coach that can take the Gators to a new level as she has had more than enough time to do that.

  4. Proud of our Gators team and for the fight they brought. BYU is a great opponent with a great fan base supporting them. A really tough environment as it should be for a regional tournament. Gators can build on this and come back better for it next year. Thanks to Coach Wise for her first class presence and fierce competitiveness. Go Gators!

  5. I am usually a highly critical sports fan, but being critical of Mary Wise is beyond the pale. We have been the best team in the southeast for years and we still compete at a very high level. The volleyball recruiting world centers around the west and Big Ten. In the Elite 8, the four challengers were crushed just like us in the Sweet Sixteen. We have a fabulous program. Some ups and downs to be expected. Go Gators, Go Mary!

      • Because I respect just how difficult it is in women’s volleyball to get to the elite 8 or the final four. You have to have monster spikers, and I am sure they are hard to come by. Kentucky was much better than UF this year and look how they were crushed in the sweet sixteen. I just think Mary Wise’s body of work deserves a lot of respect and there is absolutely no reason to believe bringing in a new coach will deliver a NC.

  6. As a very casual Gator volleyball fan, I thought I knew a couple of things about Mary Wise. I knew she’s the career wins leader among female Division 1 coaches, and I thought I knew she’s the only female coach to lead a team to the NC match. Had to look it up to confirm, but she is, having taken the Gators to the final match twice. Also learned her career wins rank her 5th overall in Division 1 history, her winning percentage is 3rd all-time in Division 1 history, and she’s the only female coach to reach multiple Final Fours. It’s possible a female coach could finally break through this year, since BYU and Illinois are led by women, but that remains to be seen. Mary Wise is easily the most successful female coach in NCAA Women’s Volleyball history.

    Seems ridiculous to consider firing her, but if UF did that, what proven coach could they get to replace her? In the last 12 seasons, Nebraska and Penn State have won 9 of the 12 NC’s with the same two coaches entrenched there for 19 and 40 years, respectively. You won’t get either of them, and they’re both in their 60’s, anyway. The other 3 champions during that span were Stanford, Texas, and UCLA. The Stanford coach retired after winning the 2016 title, the Texas coach has been there 18 years, and the UCLA coach has been there 9 years, and UCLA is his alma mater. If you don’t get a coach that’s already won a national title, then you’re certainly not getting an upgrade. So, who ya gonna call?

    • Well as an example Illinois certainly found a great coach in Tamas – ex assistant at Nebraska- his team was only two points away from sweeping reigning champs Nebraska last night and in his second year had Illinois in the final four. I don’t disagree Wise is a great coach with a great career, but with so many years with great talent and so many opportunities she has not been able to come out on top. Good discussion and still a big fan – maybe she will have the talent she needs next year as I certainly hope she can put an exclamation point on her distinguished career.

      • You’re probably a much more knowledgeable volleyball fan than I. I admit I’m basically a Gator fan who likes to see all the UF teams do well, and follows the volleyball team because it’s the Gators, not because it’s volleyball. I appreciate the fact you provided the Illinois example, because I had actually thought they were coached by Jen Tamas, Chris Tamas’ wife, but I realize now that she’s a volunteer assistant coach. I didn’t mean to suggest finding a good young coach was impossible, just not as easy as some apparently think. And again, I’d say that replacing Mary Wise with a coach that “almost” made the championship match isn’t a guaranteed upgrade over one that’s been to two championship matches. With BYU out, it’ll be at least another year before a female coach wins a title, so maybe Wise will get to be the first.

  7. I agree that Mary Wise is a great coach. One of the best at UF in any sport. I am not advocating firing her. That would be insane. However, almost every other major sport (men’s and woman’s) but woman’s volleyball has won a national title. Its time for her to win. She needs to figure out a way how to do that. She is too good of a coach and has too good of a team year after year not to have won already.