Gators move closer to SEC volleyball title


By Jim Harvin, Correspondent

Wednesday night’s Southeastern Conference volleyball match between No. 3 Florida and Auburn started out a bit rough for the Gators, but UF bounced back to hand the Tigers a 3-1 loss by scores of 22-25, 25-10, 25-16 and 25-22 before an Exactech Arena crowd of 3,225.

Led by senior outside hitter Carli Snyder’s match-high and career-tying 21 kills, Florida won its 10th straight match to improve to 24-1 overall and 16-1 in SEC play while the Tigers slipped to 15-11, 8-9.

“I think we created some better movement on defense,” Snyder said. “We were just letting a lot of things fall in the first set. We were not necessarily playing super-connected, not finding our middles the way that we know can disrupt a match.

“I think that we just had to clean up a few different areas, pass the ball a whole lot better and give ourselves some better looks.”

Snyder, who hit .432, added 13 digs to finish with her 11th double-double of the year and 29th of her career.

She was joined in double-digit kills by fellow seniors Rhamat Alhassan (13 kills, three solo blocks and three block assists) and Shainah Joseph (10 kills, seven digs), while sophomore middle Rachael Kramer had 12 kills and led all players with a .522 hitting mark that included no errors.

“Carli was an All-American tonight,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “Her kills were on different tempo sets and in different locations. She was just so creative.”

Also turning in solid efforts were senior libero Caroline Knop, who sat out the first set with a hand injury but played the final three and shared team-high digs (14) with sophomore Allie Gregory; redshirt junior setter Allie Monserez, who just missed a double-double with 31 assists and nine digs; sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey (21 assists); and freshman outside hitter Paige Hammons, who had 13 digs, three kills and a pair of service aces.

Auburn was led by senior setter Alexa Filley, who had a double-double of her own with 36 assists and 16 digs, both match-high marks, while senior outside hitter Macy Reece had a team-high 13 kills and .400 hitting percentage.

“Auburn came out and they played really hard,” Alhassan said. “They had nothing to lose, and they kind of showed that. They played very free and taking open swings and were serving really tough balls on us. It was just about being able to adjust and figuring out how to be better on every single point.”

UF hit a solid .356 for the match while holding Auburn to a .199 mark.

Florida closes out the regular season at Missouri at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, with Wise going for career win No. 900. UF needs a win or a Kentucky loss to guarantee at least a share of the SEC title.