Special to The Sun
[Updated 12-2-18, 2 p.m.] ORLANDO — The No. 16 Florida volleyball team swept Florida Gulf Coast on Friday to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
Florida (27-6) is moving on to the regional semifinal round for the 24th time in 29 trips to the tournament — all 24 coming under coach Mary Wise.
Florida will next play at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday at No. 4 seed BYU (29-1), which swept Stony Brook and Utah, to advance to the Round of 16. The Cougars are playing without junior outside hitter McKenna Miller, who is BYU’s second-best player but is out since Nov. 9 after suffering an ACL injury. BYU advanced to a seventh-straight Sweet 16 and extended a home match NCAA Tournament win streak to 19 games dating back to 1994.
No. 5 Texas and Michigan will play in the other Provo Regional game at 12 p.m. ET Friday. The winners will meet at 8 p.m. ET Saturday in the region final and for a berth in the final four. The Cougars are hosting a regional for the first time since 1986 when the tournament had only 32 teams.
Florida hit .356 as a squad, the sixth-best percentage this season. Paige Hammons led the offense on Friday night, posting 14 kills on the night. Holly Carlton followed with nine of her own and Rachael Kramer pitched in seven. Allie Monserez dished a team-leading 20 assists — her 30th time leading the Gators in that category this season. Marlie Monserez also added 16 assists on the evening.
“This crowd was great — it honestly felt like a home match,” Kramer said. “You look around and just see Orange and Blue throughout the entire stadium. I cannot thank Gator Nation enough for them to come down all the way to Orlando. That is what pushed us over the edge this weekend — their support was incredible.”
Allie Gregory led the backcourt defense for Florida, posting 16 digs. That was her 29th time leading the Gators in digs this season. Hammons followed with eight of her own and Paula Cerame added seven.
As a squad, the Gators notched 7.0 blocks, led by a team-best five by both Holly Carlton and Taelor Kellum.