BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Defending Southeastern Conference co-champion Florida earned the No. 1 ranking in the SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll and boasted two Preseason All-SEC selections, the league announced Wednesday.
The Gators, who finished 27-4 overall and 16-2 in SEC play to win their 22nd conference title last season, garnered seven of the 13 first-place votes and totaled 139 points, putting them one ahead of Kentucky, which finished third last year.
“We appreciate the coaches in our league recognizing our strong senior class,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “We also know Kentucky could have easily been the preseason favorite. The 2017 SEC race shapes up to be another competitive battle, as has been the case for several years.”
Seniors Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder were two of the 10 student-athletes named to the Preseason All-SEC Team.
Alhassan is a three-time American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American, and helped the U.S. Women’s National Team win the gold medal at last week’s Pan American Cup. Last season, Alhassan finished in the national top 15 in hitting percentage (ninth, .416) and blocks per set (11th, 1.45) for a second consecutive year, making her one of two players since 2010 to accomplish that feat in multiple campaigns.
Snyder, a two-time AVCA All-America Honorable Mention, earned her first All-SEC accolade last season with 371 kills on a team-high 957 attacks. The Macomb, Mich. native also ranked second on the team in digs (277 / 2.69 per set) and service aces (21).
The Gators open the season by hosting the VERT Challenge (Aug. 25-26), pitting them against fellow blueblood programs Texas and Nebraska on consecutive nights, which will also be their first matches inside the newly-renovated O’Dome.