Holly Pole ready for senior year at UF
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 6:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 6:20 p.m.
The start of the regular season for the Florida volleyball team may still be two weeks away, but defensive specialist and former Vanguard High School standout Holly Pole is already digging her senior year.
“I've had Senior Day marked on my calendar for a while,” Pole said at UF's Media Day on Wednesday. “I've told a lot of my family from out of town about it, and all of my friends from Ocala and definitely my family will be there for it.”
Pole has not only become an integral part of the Gators, but has developed into a coach on the court as well.
“Holly arguably has the highest volleyball IQ on our team,” head coach Mary Wise said. “That's from a walk-on who was a multi-sport athlete (in high school) and did not have the opportunity to play in international competition.
“Just as she is an excellent student – she's an accounting major – she's also an excellent student of the game. She really is, for our defensive system, an extension of (assistant coach) Dave (Boos), our defensive coordinator, on the court. Holly is constantly coaching up her teammates.”
For someone who used to dream about playing for UF in the O'Connell Center, the past three years have been quite the thrill ride.
“That's an understatement for sure,” Pole said. “It's been unreal, and the fact that I am entering my last season is hard to believe. I'm just trying to enjoy every minute of it, and I am just going to make this season last for as long as I can.
“Talent-wise, I've really come a long way, but also just the mindset of being out there on the court in front of all those fans and trying to be a better teammate and stuff like that. Now I know the role I play on this team and the role that I can play, so I'm just trying to make this team better every day.”
The 2014 Gators sport a deep and talented 17-player roster that includes 12 returning letterwinners from last year's 28-4 squad as well as a strong five-member freshman class ranked No. 4 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com and No. 5 by Volleyball Magazine.
Pole and fellow defensive specialists Madison Monserez and Taylor Unroe comprise this year's senior class, and the hard-working trio has taken the newest Gators under wing.
“Our system is not an easy system to learn, so we all have taken the younger players and tried to get them acclimated to how we do things here at Florida,” Pole said. “That's what we've been trying to focus on this first week of preseason.”
Each year, Pole's contributions have increased, capped by last season when she played in all 32 matches and all 108 sets en route to posting career-high marks for digs (224), digs per set (2.07) and serve-receive percentage (.977), the latter by committing just 11 errors in a team-high 484 chances.
“I think when it's all said and done, some would say Holly is one of the best walk-on players we've ever had, and it would be fair,” Wise said. “But I think at the end of the year, we'll say Holly is one of the best defensive players we've ever had here.”
Fans can catch a glimpse of the Gators, who are ranked No. 10 nationally in the preseason and earlier this week were picked to win the 2014 SEC title, at the annual Fan Day Saturday in the O-Dome.
The Orange and Blue intrasquad scrimmage starts things off at 3:30 p.m., and the Gators will sign autographs afterward from 5-6 p.m.
The season kicks off Friday, Aug. 29, as UF welcomes Georgia Southern, Idaho and Oklahoma to town for the Active Ankle Challenge.