Future Exciting for Gator Volleyball

Mary Wise has had a remarkable run in her 17 years coaching the Florida volleyball team. Her team has won at least a share of the SEC Title all 13 years, won 12 SEC Tournaments and made it to seven Final Fours.

Many had targeted 2008 as a drop off year for the Gators with a large senior class moving on, but those hoping for that may be wishing on a star. Florida still has plenty of talent returning and according to prepvolleyball.com even more on the way. Florida's incoming class has been named the best in the nation according to that publication.

The six-member class is headed up by the National Player of the Year Kelly Murphy from Joliet, Illinois. Murphy is so talented that she could be Florida's top outside hitter when she is in the front row and serve as the Gators' setter when the rotation takes her to the back. Joining Murphy in making the trip from Illinois to Florida is outside hitter Colleen Ward from Naperville. The two primed for their college kinship by teaming up to lead their club team to the JVDA Championship last month.

The rest of the class has a little bit of everything with middle blockers Cassandra Anderson from California and Betsy Smith from Atlanta. Add in setter Cindy Bathelt from Colorado and defensive specialist Elissa Hausmann from Tampa Gaither and you have an entire team ready to take the floor. The class also gets a ratings boost because they are including redshirt freshman Kristy Jaeckel.

That uber-talented group will join holdovers Kelsey Bowers, Kristina Johnson, Callie Rivers, Lauren Bledsoe and Elyse Cusack along with defensive specialists Christina Diaz and Erin Fleming. They'll open the season against UAB on Friday, August 27th in the O'Connell Center.

Changes Coming for ‘08

If you plan on attending Gator Volleyball this season you need to know about a couple of rules changes. The first really only effects people like me, as the NCAA is telling us stop calling Volleyball in "games" and instead call them "sets". Thus, matches in 2008 will be best 3 of 5 sets.

The other change will shorten matches. "Sets" will now be played to 25 points (you must win by two) instead of 30. That might make for more upsets, but it's more likely to make for some quick dismissals. If a match goes to five "sets", the fifth set will be played to 15 just as it is now.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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