By Jim Harvin
Tuesday’s Fresh from Florida Sunshine Showdown between No. 3 Florida and No. 19 Florida State in the Exactech Arena may have been delayed a week by Hurricane Irma, but the third-ranked Gators showed no ill effects by sweeping past the Seminoles, 3-0, winning by scores of 25-21, 25-15 and 25-12 to remain unbeaten while dropping FSU to 6-2 before a crowd of 3,005.
UF (8-0) improved to 40-20 all-time against FSU in volleyball, including a 33-6 record under coach Mary Wise (1991-present).
“It was really one of our most complete matches, from a combination of offense and defense,” Wise said. “The fact that we took 120 swings and only hit seven balls out of bounds is hard to do in practice, let alone in the match.”
UF survived a tough first set and from there things just got better and better.
The Gators broke away from a 5-all tie in set two to win going away and take a 2-0 lead, then closed out the match by scoring the first eight points of set three en route to taking an 11-1 lead and never looked back.
Senior outside hitter Carli Snyder (13.5 points) posted her fourth straight double-double with a team-high 12 kills and added 12 digs and a service ace to pace UF, but there were stars galore for the Gators.
Senior Rhamat Alhassan and sophomore Rachael Kramer, Florida’s two middle blockers, each had 10 kills and four block assists, with Alhassan adding a service ace and Kramer adding a solo block as each finished with 13 points.
Freshman outside hitter Paige Hammons had a season-high eight kills, a solo block and two block assists to also reach double figures with 10 points, and redshirt senior Shainah Joseph, UF’s right-side hitter, recorded seven kills, four digs and three block assists to finish with 8.5 points.
“We worked a lot on offense and blocking this week,” Joseph said. “I think just being very steady and helping my teammates out and helping us do the things we needed to do was what my focus was tonight.”
In addition, senior libero Caroline “CK” Knop led all players with 19 digs and added a pair of service aces, while redshirt junior setter Allie Monserez and sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey combined for 39 assists, and sophomore defensive specialist Allie Gregory finished with seven digs and three assists.
FSU was led by 13 kills from senior Milica Kubura, who tied Snyder for match-high honors with 13.5 points.
The match marked the 10th straight time in the series both squads were ranked.
Next up, UF opens the Southeastern Conference season with a road match at Arkansas at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“Offensively, we did so many good things, but again, the story continues to be what we can do defensively,” Wise said. “It starts with the serve, but our block and dig game were outstanding. There were some long, long rallies, but our ability to stay patient, even though the ball came back, was a really good way to end the pre-SEC schedule.”
Alhassan was honored before the match for reaching both the 1,000-kill and 500-block career marks in a sweep of No. 16 North Carolina on Sept. 3.