The No. 7 Gators won’t have much time to recover from their home-opener loss against No. 1 Stanford. Florida volleyball is back in action on the road against No. 8 Minnesota Saturday evening at 8.
UF showed a different side of its squad Wednesday night against the Cardinal dropping all three sets. All of the moving pieces weren’t grooving together the way they normally do. And for a team that has returned all but two of its players (without any freshmen), the Gators looked like they were still figuring things out.
“We’ll keep chipping away,” coach Mary Wise said after the sweep.
Florida (2-1) is only three matches deep into its season with 26 matches to go. This is only the beginning, but it’s the best time for this veteran-heavy team to get their level of play back on track.
Kathryn Plummer, Stanford’s two-time AVCA Player of the Year and senior outside hitter, led the charge with 21 kills Wednesday night. Florida’s redshirt junior right-side attacker Holly Carlton came in behind Plummer with 10 kills on the match, the second-highest mark.
Without Plummer’s success, the game could have gone in a different direction. Plummer was able to find Florida’s weak spots after a few swings and capitalized on those areas throughout the night.
If the Gators don’t want a repeat of Wednesday’s match, they’ll need to find ways to make adjustments quicker – closing the block on pin hits, covering the open areas in the court that could be split territory and switching up their shots.
Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall, who normally hits cross-court, found an open spot on Stanford’s side of the net, sending a kill straight down the sideline. It was a wide-open area that, frankly, caught the Cardinal off-guard since it was a spot she doesn’t normally hit. She found it late in the third set, but it may have helped her team if Hall capitalized on it earlier.
No. 8 Minnesota (1-2) will be another challenge for the Gators. The Golden Gophers will try to rebound off of back-to-back sweeps against No. 22 Florida State and No. 3 Texas in their home-opener against Florida.
Minnesota’s junior right-side attacker Stephanie Samedy leads her team in kills so far this season with 42 in the Golden Gophers’ first three games.
Minnesota showed some fight against Texas all three sets the team ran the course, taking each set a little deeper than the last. Ultimately, the Golden Gophers lost 25-22, 29-27 and 35-33.
But Carlton isn’t concerned about her team’s ability when it comes to ranked opponents.
“I think this team can learn to play as an underdog,” Carlton said. “I think we have a lot of elite players who have been elite their whole lives and have always played with that pressure.”
Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari. Contact her at [email protected].