The #5 seeded Florida Gators began their postseason run at home against the Jacksonville Dolphins in first round play. The first set was close, but the Gators swiftly took control of the match and won in three sets (25-19, 25-15, 25-16).
Chloe Mann, one of two seniors embarking on her final tournament run as a Gator, came out on fire and registered 15 kills and one block. The next best offensively was sophomore Ziva Recek who had 11 kills, an ace, and assisted with three blocks of her own. Defensively, sophomore Simone Antwi assisted with three blocks and junior libero led the way with nine digs. Worth noting is that sophomore outside hitter Gabby Mallette did not play this match. I do not know if she is hurt or if Coach Mary Wise was not playing her for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, her replacement came in the form of the redshirt sophomore Noami Santos-Lamb. Santos-Lamb had not played much throughout the regular season, but she brought it today as she registered seven kills and a dig.
With one win down, the epic rematch with Florida State has been set. The Gators won the first meeting with a three set sweep against their arch rivals on September 17 in the O-Dome. This game will not be an easy one for the Gators because I can guarantee that the Florida State Seminoles did not forget the first match. Even though the scoreboard said 3-0, FSU played the Gators tight all the way in the first match. It is going to be yet another close match that will be determined by who makes the least amount of mistakes. I would expect a large crowd to come out to this game since it will be the last time the Gators will play in the O-Dome this season. Two rivals playing each other in a win or go home scenario, what more could anybody want?
I would like to end this article by taking a moment to recognize Nelson Mandela. The former South African President died today at age 95. He was a great man who suffered through a ton of hardship for his people and he played a massive role in breaking down the racial/discriminative barriers in South Africa. He will be forever missed and remembered. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013).
*Stats accredited to Gatorzone.com