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The latest on college sports in Florida

Florida Gators volleyball team begins four-game homestand after surprising 11-2 start



The No. 11 Florida volleyball team begins a four-match homestand by hosting Arkansas and Kentucky this weekend at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

The Gators' match against the Razorbacks is tonight at 7. Sunday's match against Kentucky is set for 3 p.m. and is the Gators' first televised match of the season. It will air live on Fox Sports Florida. The match is Florida's Serving for a Cure match, an opportunity to bring awareness to breast cancer during the month of October.

The Gators are coming off a 2-0 weekend on the road, defeating South Carolina in four sets (3-1: 25-14, 25-23, 21-25, 25-17) last Friday, and sweeping Mississippi State (3-0: 25-14, 25-9, 25-18) on Sunday afternoon.

After a season-ending ACL injury to sophomore Noami Santos-Lamp in a preseason scrimmage, and playing with a roster full of young players, even longtime head coach Mary Wise admits the Gators' 11-2 start to the season is very impressive.

"Yeah, it's a surprise,'' Wise said. "I think if you asked the (Florida) coaches after the scrimmage when Noami went down with the knee injury and we knew it was probably going to be an ACL, could we have expected at this point in the season to be 11-2, no, I don't think anybody would guess that. Not based on our schedule that had us play one home SEC match, four on the road. I think what's surprising is the players' perseverance. The youth is good because they don't know any better. They are just freshman trying to find their way and show up to the bus on time. But it's the older players - Tangerine Wiggs, Betsey Smith, Sundai Weston - all three seniors playing their best volleyball. That's exactly what we hope for every senior. But they are not a group of complainers. No matter what is thrown at them, they are like 'Okay, we can handle that', and they move on. They compete, they work hard. It's their work ethic that really sets them apart."  

If you're in town for football this weekend, Wise and the volleyball team would love to see you at the O'Dome tonight.

"In years that we've been here, on weekends of a big football game and the Gator fans in really good spirits, Friday nights and Sunday aftternoons have been terrific for our attendance,'' Wise said. "I could be the only one who hopes for rain on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. But we have benefitted from the Gator Nation and their love of football. We hope the Gator fans that start pulling into town will add Friday night and Sunday afternoon in the O'Connell Center to their schedule."

[Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 1:39pm]


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