Milestone win for Gators’ Wise
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 1:05 a.m.
Third-ranked Florida came out strong Friday and went on to polish off visiting Texas A&M, 3-0, before a season-high crowd of 3,533 in the O’Connell Center.
The 25-9, 25-23, 25-17 win was not only UF’s ninth in a row — eight of them by sweep — but also made coach Mary Wise a member of the 700 club.
Wise, who is in her 23rd season at UF, improved to 700-81 all-time (1991-present) with the victory and was rewarded with a post-game standing ovation when the achievement was announced.
“It just means I’ve watched a lot of warm-ups,” said Wise, whose winning percentage at UF now stands at a lofty .896 mark.
“But it gives us an opportunity to step back and realize how blessed we are that we came to Florida and stayed here with all the support that we have from the administration and the talented players that have come through here through the years.”
UF (14-1, 3-0) was hitting on all cylinders early, leading from start to finish in taking the opening set in dominating fashion. The Gators made just one attack error, that coming on their 21st attempt, and hit .433 for the set while holding the Aggies (9-4, 1-1), who were playing for the first time in the O’Dome, to a minus-.107 mark.
Set two was much different, as A&M started to get in sync. The Aggies led early, 6-4, and there were six ties in all before UF was able to pull out a tough 25-23 win on a kill by sophomore Gabby Mallette.
Set three was more back-and-forth action. After the teams were tied at 6-all, Florida went on a run behind the serve of junior Madison Monserez to go up 10-6 and eventually built the lead to seven, 16-9, before the Aggies fought back to within 17-14.
UF, however, would have none of it and answered by closing the match on an 8-3 run, capped by freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston’s 10th and final kill.
“I thought in practice this week we worked really hard to get ready for them,” said senior setter Taylor Brauneis, who had a match-high 32 assists and added eight digs. “I thought it was a full team effort.”
Offensively, UF hit .369, led by middle blockers Simone Antwi and Chloe Mann who combined for 21 kills on 33 attacks without an error.
Antwi, a redshirt sophomore, led all players with 12 kills, just one short of her career high, and hit .632, just percentage points behind a match-high .643 mark by Mann, UF’s senior All-American. Mallette added seven kills, while Holston, who continues to impress, hit .474.
Defensively, UF got a season-high 11 digs from Monserez and held Aggies’ senior Allie Sawatzky, one of the top offensive setters in the country, to just two kills and a minus-.100 hitting mark.
Sierra Patrick led the way for A&M with a double-double (11 kills, 11 digs).
“I thought our serving was good, our passing was great, and Taylor (Brauneis) did a really good job,” Mallette said. “With all that working together, I thought it was a really, really great win.”
The Gators hit the road for a Sunday match at Alabama (13-3, 1-1) at 2:30 p.m. The rare split weekend leaves UF short on preparation time for the Crimson Tide, off to one of their best starts.
“The real challenge now is going on the road and playing arguably the most improved team in the SEC,” Wise said. “This Alabama team looks nothing like the team from a year ago.”