UF volleyball sweeps to opening wins
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 1:10 a.m.
All preseason, the talk has been about the depth and talent of the 2013 Florida Gators.
Friday, that depth and talent were on display for the first time and did not disappoint.
Despite coach Mary Wise resting three of her five returning starters — senior All-American middle blocker Chloe Mann, sophomore All-American outside hitter Ziva Recek and senior All-SEC setter Taylor Brauneis — after the first set, UF swept New Orleans, 3-0, with a 25-7, 25-9, 25-12 win in the first match at the O’Connell Center at the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational. In the night cap, the Gators beat LIU-Brooklyn 3-1 ( 25-18, 25-11, 24-26, 25-17).
Redshirt sophomores Simone Antwi and Noami Santos-Lamb led the way. Antwi, the new starting middle blocker alongside Mann, had a match-high eight kills, hit .636 and added a match-high three block assists en route to a match-high 10.5 points, while Santos-Lamb, an outside hitter who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, recorded five kills in seven swings with no errors for a .714 hitting mark and added a pair of aces.
“For Noami, who is very expressive and a player who just loves to play volleyball, last year was a long, long year for her,” Wise said.
“The excitement is she gets to play the game she loves, and she has worked very hard to put herself in this position. She’s still not at 100 percent in terms of exactly where she was before the injury, but there is nothing wrong with her arm.”
All 15 players saw action, including UF’s four newcomers led by freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston and sophomore setter Mackenzie Dagostino, a transfer from Maryland and former standout at Tampa Berkeley Prep.
Holston (six kills, match-high five block assists) played in all three sets while Dagostino (match-high 21 assists) started and played the last two and tied redshirt junior libero Taylor Unroe for match-high honors with four aces.
UF hit .500 as a team, had 16 aces and held UNO to a minus -.018 hitting mark.
In the match against LIU, Recek registered a double-double of 15 kills and 11 digs, the 10th of her career. Mann hit .591 (14-1-22) to lead the team against the Blackbirds, coupled with a match-high seven blocks.
Duke swept LIU-Brooklyn 3-0 in the tourney opener, winning by scores of 25-20, 25-23 and 25-18.
The tournament concludes today with LIU-Brooklyn facing UNO at 1:30 p.m., followed by UF taking on Duke at 4. Fans with a ticket from the Gator football game with Toledo will be allowed free entrance.