UF volleyball hosts big SEC weekend

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 6:24 p.m.

The second-ranked Florida Gators have their first true SEC home weekend ahead, and what a weekend it should be with UF hosting No. 15 Kentucky on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and a very improved Georgia squad Sunday afternoon at 2 in a pair of regionally televised matches in the O'Connell Center.

“It's a great way to see where we are at this point in the season early in the SEC race with both Kentucky and Georgia coming in here on a roll, both with really good RPIs and enough returning point-scorers and talent on their team,” coach Mary Wise said. “It's a great test for us.”

This evening's battle not only features the two highest-ranked SEC squads, but the two hottest.

The Gators (15-1, 4-0) have won 10 straight, nine by sweep, while the Wildcats (12-3, 4-0), who are off to their best SEC start since 2009, have won seven in a row with five sweeps, capped by a pair of 3-0 wins at home last weekend against Ole Miss and Tennessee.

UF and UK are two of only three teams unbeaten in league play, joining No. 25 Missouri (19-0, 3-0), whom Florida faces on the road next weekend.

“We're really excited to be able to be home for two games finally and be playing in front of our fans,” junior defensive specialist and former Ocala Vanguard standout Holly Pole said. “Kentucky always gives us their best shot no matter what, so just being able to be here and play a solid team like Kentucky is very exciting.”

In their visit to the O-Dome last year, the Wildcats put UF in a 0-2 hole before the Gators rallied for a thrilling 22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-8 victory en route to winning their 20th SEC title in 22 seasons under Wise.

Kentucky is led by seniors Whitney Billings, an outside hitter who was a 2012 SEC first-team selection and AVCA second-team All-American, and middle blocker Alex Morgan.

Georgia (13-3, 3-1), meanwhile, has won five of its last six.

Senior outside hitter Brittany Northcutt, who collected her 1,000th career kill in last Sunday's win over Ole Miss, leads the way for the Bulldogs.

“I think we have to focus on serving and passing,” sophomore outside hitter Ziva Recek said. “Both teams have some really good offensive players and middles, so we have to stop them.”

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