By Jim Harvin
The third-ranked Florida volleyball team capped off the weekend by defeating a tough Lipscomb squad, 3-1, Saturday night, winning by scores of 25-20, 25-16, 19-25 and 25-16 before an Exactech Arena crowd of 2,674 in the O’Connell Center in the final match of the 2017 Gator Invitational.
UF, which recorded a season-high 16.5 team blocks, remained unbeaten on the season at 7-0 while Lipscomb dropped to 6-6.
“Lipscomb is an NCAA Tournament team, but what they don’t have with size, they make up for with arms, be it the arms behind the service line or the arms at the net,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “We don’t win that match without our blocking.”
The Gators were led once again by senior outside hitter Carli Snyder, who posted another double-double with a match-high 19 kills and 11 digs while accounting for a match-high 22.5 points.
“They (Lipscomb) were really tough,” Snyder said. “I have to give them so much credit. We scouted them and knew exactly what they were going to do, and they stayed really true to that report. They are an NCAA Tournament team, they come out swinging and they hit the ball hard. They really tested us.”
Fellow senior Rhamat Alhassan also posted a double-double with 10 kills and a match-high 12 block assists to score 16 points, while sophomores Rachael Kramer (seven kills, three block assists) and Cheyenne Huskey (four kills, match-high 22 assists, one solo block and seven block assists) each accounted for 8.5 points.
In addition, senior libero Caroline “CK” Knop was clutch as usual with 13 digs and three assists, and sophomore Allie Gregory and freshman Paige Hammons each had 14 digs, with Hammons adding six kills and three block assists to finish with 7.5 points.
“Lipscomb has some really good servers, so I was just trying to impact the game with my defense and my swings,” Hammons said. “We start SEC play next weekend, so it was great to just get the feel for the game before starting conference play.”
Lipscomb’s Carlyle Nusbaum was stellar in defeat, posting a team-high 17 kills and adding 16 digs for a double-double and finishing the match with 17 points, while teammate Maddie Phillips added 10 kills and 12 points.
Saturday’s win boosted Wise’s career total to 881, tying longtime UC Santa Barbara coach Kathy Gregory for the ninth-most victories in Division I history.
Friday, Wise became just the fourth coach in NCAA history to record 800 wins at one school at the Division I level with UF’s two victories. However, she is the first female member of that elite group.
The other three coaches are Penn State’s Russ Rose (1,154), Hawaii’s Dave Shoji (1,052), and Long Beach State’s Brian Gimmillaro (835).
In Saturday’s first match, Northern Kentucky defeated Florida A&M.
The Gators return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Florida State in the Exactech Arena.