Women's volleyball: No. 12 Florida topples No. 1 Texas in first game at renovated O'Dome
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Opening night was a huge success for the Florida women's volleyball team.
In their first game in the O'Dome since its renovation and with a crowd of 7,523 behind them, the No. 12-ranked Gators defeated No. 1 Texas in four sets. Florida knocked off the nation's No. 1 team for the third time in school history.
"I had so much fun this game. The crowd was amazing," Florida sophomore middle blocker Rachael Kramer said. "Gator fans always show up to all of our games, always loud, but it was just a different experience."
The victory snapped Florida's nine-game losing streak against the No. 1 ranked team and set off a wild celebration. The Gators are now 3-14 all-time against top-ranked programs.
It was a night to remember as Florida beats #1 Texas! pic.twitter.com/34FycLa5x1— Gators Volleyball (@GatorsVB) August 26, 2017
The win also served as a bit of a revenge for the Gators. The last time they faced off against Texas was in 2015, when they lost in the fifth set.
The Gators took control early Friday as the crowd roared and the team rode the momentum to take the first set.
After taking an early lead at 8-7, the Gators did not trail for the rest of the set and went on to win 25-16. Kramer led the team with four kills in the set. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Mia Sokolowski was added three kills, helping offset four errors in her first career game.
The star of the night, senior outside hitter Carli Snyder, took serve up 21-16 in the set and had two aces over the last four points to lift UF to the quick lead. Snyder had six aces in the game, a new career high. She also had her first double-double of the season, recording 20 digs and 14 kills.
The Longhorns struggled in the first set with a .031 attack percentage, compared to the Gators' .233 percentage.
"It's disappointing for us to come in and lose, but credit Florida," Texas coach Jerritt Elliot said. "They put a lot of pressure on us with a great crowd and a great environment. We struggled early on with our first touch; we struggled with the quality of swings and we were tipping way too much."
The second set was much closer. There were eight lead changes and 16 ties, and with the two teams tied at 23-23, a crucial point was ahead.
Texas' Lexi Sun hit a ball close to the back line that the officials called long. Texas challenged and the call was confirmed, giving the Gators a 24-23 lead. With the crowd erupting, sophomore defensive specialist Allie Gregory served for the set and Sokolowski finished it with a kill.
Texas began to wake up in the third set, making a push to get back into the match.
Florida trailed 12-8 and could not close the gap. Down 23-15, the Gators won three points in a row to make it 23-18, but after a Texas timeout, the Longhorns broke Florida's serve and won the next point to take the set 25-18.
Texas had 14 kills at a .289 clip in the third set while the Gators had 11 kills on a .105 clip.
However, Florida quickly regained control when Snyder got the crowd going in the fourth set with a leadoff ace. The Gators held a comfortable lead for most of the set, with Snyder and Kramer combining for nine kills. With Texas serving down 24-21, redshirt senior outside hitter Shainah Joseph closed out the match with a kill to cap a memorable night for Florida's athletic program. The UF soccer team defeated No. 1-ranked Stanford across campus just hours earlier.
"I think that we did a great job of playing Gator volleyball, staying focused, staying together," Snyder said.
The Gators had 10 service aces, a feat they did not accomplish at all last year.
Redshirt junior setter Allie Monserez led the team with 26 assists, with sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey being a close second with 18. Huskey had 5 blocks. She never had more than one block in a game going into the season. She is going to be a big part of this team, as she attempts to replace Four-time AVCA All-American Alex Holston.
Snyder led the match with 20 1/2 points. Florida's senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan was next with 14 and Kramer added 13 1/2 points. Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu was the only Longhorn to finish with double-digit points, with 11 1/2 points.
"What we told the team beforehand is no season is won or lost in August,'' Gators coach Mary Wise said. "What it is is a starting point, and the starting point is there's plenty of video for us to watch where we will get better, and then there's plenty of video where we did some nice things."
Next up, Florida will face No. 5 Nebraska Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. Nebraska lost its opening match to No. 18 Oregon 3-1.