Notebook: Gator volleyball hosts Florida State today
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 11:35 p.m.
Fresh off the tournament title at the Active Ankle Challenge and a move up to No. 4 in the latest AVCA poll, the Florida volleyball team faces instate rival and No. 17 Florida State in a non-conference showdown in the O’Connell Center today at 6 p.m.
“We understand that at 6 o’clock, there are going to be fans who normally would not put a midweek volleyball match on their calendar, but when it says ‘Florida State,’ they will,” coach Mary Wise said.
“What we’re hoping is we get our volleyball die-hard fans and the die-hard Gator fans that just want to see Florida versus Florida State in anything.”
The Seminoles swept the Gators, 3-0, in Tallahassee last year, their first win over UF since 1994 and one that ended a 21-match Florida winning streak in the series.
Florida (8-1), whose only loss was to No. 1 Penn State, is the defending SEC champion, while FSU (6-3), the reigning ACC champ, rallied from an 0-2 deficit to defeat No. 7 Michigan, 3-2, Saturday — the highest-ranked team the ‘Noles have defeated in program history.
UF, which leads the all-time series 35-17, is 28-3 against FSU under Wise, including 16-0 at home.
Florida closes out its non-conference schedule this weekend at the Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee, Wisc. The Gators will take on the host Golden Eagles Friday at 8 p.m. and Wisconsin-Milwaukee Saturday at 7 p.m.
A 1-1 tie Sunday against South Florida in Tampa ended UF’s four-match winning streak, but it didn’t halt a five-match unbeaten streak the No. 9 Gators will carry into their SEC opener this Friday night at 7 against Alabama at Pressly Stadium.
Florida (6-1-1) opened the weekend Friday with its fourth straight shutout, 2-0, over previously undefeated Minnesota of the Big Ten.
“It was a good win for us to get a shutout against a team with that different a style and that kind of pressure,” coach Becky Burleigh said. “It was good to see that before we start the conference.
“Against USF, they scored in the sixth minute, so obviously we had a little adversity at the beginning of that game and had to overcome that. But I really loved the way our team battled.”
Florida is 14-3-1 in SEC openers, including an 8-0-1 mark at home.
The Alabama match is the only one of the weekend for UF. The Tide, which beat UF 1-0 in Tuscaloosa last year, is off to just a 2-5 start, but Burleigh is leery.
“This Alabama team is not fooling us,” she said. “Their record may not look great, but it’s the same team as last year, which was a very good team.”
Swimming and Diving
The UF men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will hit the water for the first time at the fourth annual Pinch A Penny All Florida Invitational in the O’Connell Center Sept. 27.
Both squads are coming off sixth-place finishes at the 2013 NCAA Championships, extending their respective program streaks of top-10 national finishes to 14 for the men and 13 for the women under coach Gregg Troy.
In addition, the UF men won the 2013 SEC title, the Gators’ first in 20 years while ending an impressive 16-year championship run by Auburn.
The Florida men return 11 All-Americans led by seniors Marcin Cieslak and Sebastien Rousseau while the women return nine paced by senior Elizabeth Beisel.
“We had a tremendous summer and good improvement,” coach Gregg Troy said. “The majority of the team was on top of the things they were supposed to be on and competed real well internationally, which is always good.”
“We’ve also got a freshman class of six women and six men who we feel like can contribute right away.”