Gator volleyball continues NCAA Tournament run tonight at home
The 17th-ranked Florida volleyball team will play Michigan at 7 p.m. today in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Gainesville regional semifinal.
The match can be seen on ESPN3.com.
The winner of the Florida-Michigan match will play the winner of the Illinois-Ohio State match for the right to advance to the national semifinals in San Antonio, Texas.
Florida is coming off two victories in the Cedar Falls sub-regional. The Gators are in the midst of their 21st consecutive 20-win season and advanced to their 20th regional semifinal in Florida head coach Mary Wise’s 21-year tenure. This is Florida’s seventh straight regional semifinal appearance but only the second time in program history to enter the NCAA Championship unseeded.
Florida leads the nation in hitting percentage, as the Gators (.308) are the only team in the country hitting above .300. The Orange and Blue also lead the SEC in opponent hitting percentage (.157) and service aces (1.62/set), good for 17th in the country.
Wise said the run the Gators have put together in the tournament has been exceptionally fun because as an unseeded team there is no pressure on this group to win.
“For a number of years as a seeded team, and hosting, it was a matter of just survive and move on,'' she said. "Not only did we survive, but also we were battle tested. We survived and we celebrated. The win over Missouri was enough to make for a thrilling season alone, and then to add Northern Iowa. This has really been more of an enjoyment, again because there is no pressure on this team. It has really been a fun couple of weeks.”
She expects tough competition from the Wolverines tonight.
“They can bring it,'' Wise said. "It is very impressive, but they’re not the only ones. Their ability to point score in every rotation with a great libero – it’s impressive. Can we get them out of system? That’s going to be our biggest challenge. The thing is that you get two physical left sides, so you can get them out of system and they can still point score. The Gators have to bring their defensive shoes (tonight), that's for sure.”
[Photos: University of Florida]