Texas dominates Gators 3-1 in Volleyball

<img src=http://www246.pair.com/autoybkh/albums/albun23/DSCF0107.thumb.jpg align=right>Youth and inexperience finally caught up with Mary Wise and her fifth ranked Florida volleyball team Wednesday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The Gators and their three freshmen starters ran into a buzzsaw in the form of the taller, more experienced Texas Longhorns who dominated Florida as few teams ever have in the 14 years that Wise has been UF's volleyball coach.

"It was so bad that you want to burn the tape and move on," said Wise after Texas dismantled the Gators in four games (28-30, 30-17, 30-24, 30-15). "But, we'll watch it, we'll learn from it and the point is that we have to get past it because we play Friday (Auburn), Sunday (Alabama) and Wednesday (at Georgia)."

Florida (10-2) had won 46 consecutive home matches dating back to the 2001 season and had won eight straight home matches against ranked opponents. The Longhorns got hot in the second game after losing game one. The eighteenth ranked Longhorns (12-0) rattled the Gators as they jumped out to a 9-1 lead early in the game two and Florida struggled with its poise the rest of the match.

"I think they came out to play and I don't think we expected them to come and play so hard and so tough," said freshman setter Angie McGinnis, one of three freshmen in the Florida starting lineup. "When they got a huge lead in that second game, from then on we couldn't get ourselves back in it."

It was an uncharacteristic night for the Gators. Even in the first game, the Gators had problems hitting over the Longhorn blockers. In the last three games, Florida all too often hit into the Texas blocks or hit long trying to go over the top.

"They were executing at a very high level," said senior middle blocker Sherri Williams. "We weren't passing very well, we weren't blocking very well and we were hitting balls out. It was a total team loss."

Florida got eight service points from senior Lauren Moscovic in game one as the Gators rallied from a 16-11 deficit to win their only game. Consecutive service aces by junior Jane Colleymore along with timely blocking from Williams, Michelle Chatman and McGinnis helped give the Gators a three-point cushion at 28-25 and from there the Gators eased into the win.

Florida was totally out of synch from the opening serve of game two. Texas used its big front line to jump to a 9-1 lead with 6-3 Bethany Howden hammering the Gators from the middle and 6-3 Mira Topic doing her damage on the left side. The inexperienced Gators fell apart. Blocking breakdowns, poor passing off Texas serves and bad timing all contributed to Florida's demise.

"We're very inexperienced and we're a young team," said Williams. "We showed that tonight. A veteran team would have gotten it together and come back."

Texas got an early lead in game four, but the Gators closed to 16-14 behind McGinnis and Colleymore. However, Texas strung together five straight points and cruised to the win. In game four, Florida was never in contention.

"Give all the credit to Texas," said Wise. "They're the best serving team we've played all year. We didn't play very well. They outplayed us at every position.

"The good news is that Texas isn't on the schedule anymore. The key is that it happened at home in a non-conference match. We lost nothing by losing this match."

Florida has one day to prepare before Friday evening's home match with Southeastern Conference foe Auburn.

"We lost," said Williams. "We've got Auburn next. We'll let this one go and we'll start getting ready tomorrow for the next one. We've just got to let it go."

From Raymond Hines:

On a side note, despite the loss, the volleyball game was a great deal of high intensity fun. A big crowd showed up, the band was there rockin' the crowd on, the cheerleaders were tumbling about, and Alberta made her presence known. I managed to snap a few photos to give you an idea of what it's like to be at a Gator Volleyball match. If you haven't been to one of them, you're definitely missing out. Especially if you have children - they usually love these things and there were plenty of kids enjoying the game. Remember, it's been the women's sports that have been carrying the University when it comes to the All-Sports SEC trophy as well as the national Sears Cup rankings, so it's obvious many Gator fans are very proud of this. So, if you get a chance to go to one of these games, come and join in on the fun!

The Lady Gator Volleyball team as they prepare for a Texas serve.

Gator Cheerleaders at the Volleyball match

The O'Dome is always packed with fun

The Lady Gators celebrate a score

The band does their best to help rock on the Lady Gators.

A great crowd for an otherwise good game despite the loss.

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