Notebook: Volleyball to open homestand
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 1, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.
Coach Mary Wise admits even she and her staff are surprised by her young team's early success.
Three weeks into Southeastern Conference action, 12th-ranked UF (11-2, 5-0 SEC) is the only unbeaten volleyball team in league play despite having played four of its first five SEC matches on the road.
“I think if you asked the coaches after the Orange and Blue scrimmage when Noami (Santos-Lamb) went down with a knee injury and we knew it was probably going to be an ACL, could we have expected at this point in the season to be 11-2? No.” Wise said. “I don't think anybody would have guessed that, based on our schedule that had us play just one SEC home match and four on the road.”
UF, which has won eight straight matches since dropping back-to-back decisions to then-No. 2 Texas and then-No. 9 Stanford at the Nike Big Four Challenge, opens a season-long, four-match homestand with games against Arkansas and Kentucky this weekend.
Florida defeated both squads on the road on the opening weekend of SEC play, winning a 3-2 thriller (15-13 in the final set) in Fayetteville and then stunning the Wildcats 3-0 in Lexington.
The Razorbacks (13-3, 4-1) have won four straight since the loss to UF while the Wildcats (9-6, 3-2) have won their last three, including a 3-0 sweep of preseason favorite Tennessee.
“We're playing two very talented, experienced teams that are playing their best volleyball of the year,” Wise said. “They look so different from the first time we played them.”
UF faces Arkansas at 7 p.m. Friday before battling Kentucky at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Gators' first televised match of the season (Fox Sports Florida).
The 24th-ranked Gators, fresh off a weekend sweep of Ole Miss and Arkansas that capped a four-game unbeaten homestand in which they scored first in every match, hit the road for tilts at LSU and No. 6 Texas A&M this weekend.
“I was most happy with our defensive effort in both games in limiting the two teams' opportunities, and it was also nice to sort of get on this trend of scoring early and staying ahead and not having to chase games from behind,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “This weekend coming up is a big weekend.”
UF (8-3-1, 5-1) is tied atop the SEC East with No. 11 Missouri (10-2, 5-1) and trails the sixth-ranked Aggies (11-1-1, 5-0-1), who lead the SEC West, by a single point in the race for the overall title.
Friday's 7:30 p.m. match with LSU (5-4-4, 1-3-2) will air on SUN Sports, while Sunday's 1:30 p.m. match against Texas A&M will be televised on ESPNU.
UF, which has won five matches in a row, is hoping for the return of senior All-American Erika Tymrak (ankle), who has missed the last three matches. There is still no timetable for the return of fellow senior All-American Kathryn Williamson (knee), who has not played since being injured against FIU on Sept. 2.
Swimming and diving
It was a great opening weekend for both UF swim teams, as the host Gators defeated seven instate programs en route to winning the men's and women's competition at the 3rd All Florida Invitational.
UF swimmers collected 32 titles in all, winning 23 individual events and nine relays. Redshirt junior Sebastien Rousseau and junior Elizabeth Beisel led the way with three individual victories apiece.
“The NCAA meet is a three-day event, so it was kind of a rehearsal for the end of the season,” said associate head coach Anthony Nesty. “We kind of keep the same schedule as our championship meets, and when you go three days, every day gets a little more stressful and a lot more fatigue sets in. That's where your training pays off, so to have them compete at a great level was great to see. Hopefully, it's a good sign for the rest of the season.”