Florida received the 10th overall seed for the NCAA volleyball tournament Sunday night and will host the first two rounds starting Thursday and Friday.
Florida State (19-9) will play Central Florida (24-7) in one first-round match at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the O’Connell Center and Florida (25-4), which won a share of the SEC title Saturday, will play Alabama State (17-21), the SWAC champions, at 7 p.m. Thursday’s winners face off in the second round at 7 p.m. Friday.
This is the 26th time in program history that the Gators earned hosting rights for the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
Call the Gator Ticket Office (352-375-4683) for ticket information.
On Saturday, the No. 15 Florida volleyball team closed out the 2019 regular season with a pulsating 3-2 win over Texas A&M, netting the Gators another Southeastern Conference title.
UF won the tense marathon by scores of 25-17, 19-25, 25-18, 22-25 and 15-13 to grab a share of this year’s crown with No. 14 Kentucky, the defending champion.
The Senior Day victory before an Exactech Arena crowd of 3,156 gave the Gators their 24th SEC title in 29 seasons under head coach Mary Wise.
“Texas A&M, toward the end of the first set, did such a good job in terms of making us uncomfortable,” Wise said. “I thought they were terrific behind the service line.
“It was a match that could’ve gone either way. We were just lucky enough to come out on top.”
UF improves to 25-4 overall and 16-2 in SEC play while the third-place Aggies finish at 21-7, 13-5.
The win also marked the 29th straight season of at least 25 wins under Wise.
Four seniors — Rachael Kramer, Allie Gregory, Chanelle Hargreaves and Morgan Greer — were honored in a pre-match ceremony.
“I think this is something we’ve been working on and fighting with all season,” said Gregory, who set a new career-high with her match-leading 25 digs.
“This is by far the best we’ve ever bounced back. We were so resilient and we were quick to be resilient, which really helped us. We couldn’t have done it at a better time. We ended on a great note.”
The match had a little of everything and a lot of drama.
UF captured the first set, but A&M bounced back to win set two.
The Gators went up 2-1 with their third-set win, but the Aggies bounced back to tie things at 2-all.
Texas A&M started off the fifth and final set by scoring the first three points, but the Gators battled back to tie things up at 7-all.
They would eventually go ahead, 10-9, then built the lead to 14-9, giving UF match point.
The Aggies would fight off four of them, making the score 14-13, but following a Gator timeout, Thayer Hall came through with the last of her match-high 16 kills to seal the deal and set off a wild celebration.
Kramer finished with 13 kills, Lauren Dooley had 10 and Paige Hammons had nine.
Makena Patterson and Treyauna Rush each had 12 kills while Hollann Hans and Mallory Talbert added 11 each.
The two teams combined for 20.5 blocks — 10 for UF, 10.5 for A&M.
“To start off, it was Senior Night so it was so emotional,” Kramer said. “It was a roller coaster of emotions, but for us to come back and win it in the end just shows the grit of this team. Especially to be up and have them come back and be on our tails, to finish out that match is huge.”
Also on Sunday, Florida placed Thayer Hall, Paige Hammons and Rachael Kramer on the All-SEC team. Kramer was also named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
This is Kramer’s fourth SEC honor – she was named to the All-Freshman Team in 2016 and earned All-SEC accolades in each of the last two seasons.
Kramer – a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection – was named SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year for her 4.00 GPA in graduate school. She is currently earning her Master’s in International Business after having completed her Bachelor’s degree in marketing in just three years.
Last season, Hammons was named to the All-SEC team for the first time in her career, while Hall earned a spot on the 2018 All-Freshman team.