Notebook: Volleyball begins SEC play with pair of wins

Junior defensive specialist and former Ocala Vanguard star Holly Pole (30), was a major factor in the Gators' recent success.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 30, 2013 at 10:25 p.m.

The third-ranked Florida volleyball team's 2013 SEC season got off to a solid start with a pair of 3-0 road sweeps of Mississippi State and Ole Miss, respectively, over the weekend.

“Anytime you start your SEC season 2-0 on the road with two sweeps, you've got to be pleased, and we were with what we saw,” said associate head coach Dave Boos, who addressed the media Monday while head coach Mary Wise was recruiting.

Boos pointed to performances by sophomore outside hitter Gabby Mallette and junior defensive specialist and former Ocala Vanguard star Holly Pole as keys in the weekend wins.

“We've kind of expanded Gabby's role this year, and she's really taken to it and is really blossoming right now,” Boos said. “On Friday night, she pretty much bailed us out the first two sets with her attacking, so you have to give a lot of credit to her and her development.

“Sunday, Holly Pole probably had her best match as a server and passer. Her serving game — she went on runs all match long, and you could see she was really feeling it. I mean, she passed almost flawlessly the entire match.”

The Gators (13-1, 2-0), who have won eight straight (seven by sweep), host Texas A&M (9-3, 1-0) Friday night at 7 in the O'Connell Center.

It will be a rare split-weekend for UF in league play, as the Gators will hit the road for a road match at Alabama Sunday at 2:30 p.m.


The seventh-ranked Gators will look to start a new winning streak when they host No. 22 South Carolina at Pressly Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.

UF split a pair of SEC matches on its first league road trip, beating No. 24 Ole Miss, 4-1, on Friday before dropping a 1-0 decision at Missouri on Sunday, ending the Gators' seven-game unbeaten streak.

Florida (8-2-1, 2-1) scored three goals in the first 15 minutes and coasted from there in the win over the Rebels, but could not find the back of the net on 21 shot attempts in the tough loss to the Tigers.

Missouri scored the game's only goal just eight minutes into the match.

“It was a long travel weekend, but it was a good experience for us,” coach Becky Burleigh said.

“It was good to see us get off to a fast start (Friday), probably our best start of the season.

“Then came Sunday, and we got off to a very slow start. It's really frustrating because when you take 21 shots and don't get a goal — that's tough to stomach.”

“Obviously the lesson we take from that is the slow start really doomed us.”

After taking on the Gamecocks (9-1-1, 2-1) on Friday, UF closes out the weekend with a home match against Auburn (4-6-1, 0-3) Sunday at 2 p.m.

Swimming & Diving

Coach Gregg Troy was pleased overall with the Gators' season-opening performance in easily winning both the men's and women's titles while setting 21 NCAA provisional marks at the 4th Pinch A Penny All Florida Invitational over the weekend.

The three-day meet involving UF and six other state teams followed the same format as the NCAA Championships.

“From our perspective, having the chance to compete over the weekend in a championship format gives us a wealth of experience for what we're going to see later on,” Troy said. “It's very seldom you get to swim in a championship format. Even our conference meet is a slightly different format, so I think our freshmen and younger, inexperienced folks have a leg up on where we'd like to be at the end of the year.”

Next up is dual-meet action for both squads, with the UF men at Minnesota on Oct. 12 and the UF women at SEC foe Missouri on Oct. 17.

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