Notebook: UF volleyball on rise
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
The 13th-ranked Florida volleyball team, fresh off a road sweep of Arkansas and Kentucky on the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play, continues to impress.
“To be able to come off that road trip 2-0, there are not many teams that can do that in our conference,” associate head coach Dave Boos said. “It gives us a lot of confidence for this young group, which is really developing in front of our eyes as we keep moving forward.”
The Gators (8-2, 2-0), who play four of their first five SEC regular-season matches on the road, came through with a five-set win over the Razorbacks last Friday night, then went to Lexington, Ky., Sunday and defeated the 24th-ranked Wildcats, 3-0, recording their first sweep of Kentucky since 2007.
UF's lone match this weekend will be at home against SEC newcomer Missouri on Friday night at 7 in the O'Connell Center. The Tigers (10-2, 2-0), whom Florida defeated in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, also swept their opening two league matches highlighted by a five-set home win over 17th-ranked and defending SEC champion Tennessee, the 2012 preseason favorite.
“They are a very talented group,” Boos said. “We're going to have our hands full. It's going to be a really good match. Thankfully, we only have one match to prepare for this weekend.”
Boos, a former Ball State head coach and one of the top defensive gurus in the game, is in his third season with Florida. He was filling in Monday at UF's weekly All-Sports media event for head coach Mary Wise, who was on a recruiting trip.
“For us to be the champs at the end of this whole thing, we have to play better defense,” he said. “Our offense is at a pretty good level. Sunday was a good indication we're on that path. We had our best performance of the year, especially defensively.”
Leading the way was redshirt sophomore libero Taylor Unroe, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts. She had 24 digs and five assists, both career-highs, in the five-set thriller over Arkansas and added 17 digs in the three-set sweep of Kentucky.
Wise's 1992 squad, the first UF team to reach the NCAA final four, will be honored during Friday's volleyball match as well as at the football game Saturday.
The 22nd-ranked Gators rebounded from a tough 2-1 loss to Kentucky last Friday to down Auburn, 2-1, in overtime Sunday, gaining a split on their opening 2012 SEC road weekend.
Junior Adriana Leon's first goal as a Gator was the difference against the Tigers.
Leon, a transfer from Notre Dame and Ontario native who missed all of preseason and the first three matches of the regular season playing for Canada at the FIFA Women's U-20 World Cup in Japan, scored off an assist from senior All-America Erika Tymrak with just 32 seconds left in the first overtime to give UF its first SEC win of the season.
The Gators (4-3-1, 1-1), who were the preseason SEC favorites, open a season-long, four-match homestand by hosting No. 25 Tennessee (6-1-2, 1-0-1) at Pressly Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m.
Georgia (5-3-1, 1-0-1) comes calling Sunday at 2 p.m.
“Going into this weekend, these two teams are both ranked ahead of us in the SEC standings, so it's important for us to get off to a good start at home in the SEC,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “I think both of these teams are playing some good soccer.”
It will also be Alumni Weekend for UF, with a host of former Gator standouts expected to be in Gainesville for the event.