GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The overall No. 2 seeded Gators dropped the opening set for the fourth time in their last eight outings, but like the previous three they shook it off and roared back to a 3-1 victory, this time fending off 15th-seeded UCLA to reach the program's 16th NCAA Regional Championship match.
The Gators will face either seventh-seeded Minnesota or 10th-seeded USC Saturday at 6 p.m. ET inside Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O'Connell Center. ESPNU will televise the match, while Tom Collett and Josh Crow will have the radio call on ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM WRUF.
Three-time All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan logged her second double-double of the season and eighth of her career, tallying 10 kills and 10 blocks. It was the second 10-block outing of the season for Alhassan.
Fellow senior and two-time All-SEC selection Carli Snyder amassed a match-high 18 kills and just two errors for a .320 hitting percentage. The Macomb, Mich., native added 15 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Snyder also had three service aces and a pair of block assists to total 22 points.
Right behind those two statistically were All-SEC right side Shainah Joseph and two-time All-SEC libero Caroline Knop, who finished with 10 kills and a team-high 18 digs, respectively. Sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey led the Gators in assists (21) for only the third time this season, and she tied her career high with eight blocks.
Defensively, the Gators were stellar in the second and third sets, holding UCLA to .065 and -.025 hitting percentages. Florida's block, one of the best in the nation, came alive in the final three sets. Of the Gators' 14 blocks Friday, 12 came in the final three sets, including a seven-block effort in the third set.
Saturday, Dec. 9 vs. No. 7 Minnesota / No. 10 Southern California | 6 p.m. ET