GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The 16th-seeded Florida volleyball team topped the Florida A&M Rattlers in three sets on Thursday night in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the victory, head coach Mary Wise clinched her 1,000th career win. She becomes the first female Division I women's volleyball coach to hit that milestone.
The Gators improve to 21-8 on the year, while Florida A&M finishes its season with a 25-7 record. Florida remains undefeated in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, moving to 24-0 all-time.
UF won the first set handily, taking the frame 25-11. The Gators followed that set with a 25-14 performance in the second and closed out the match with a stifling 25-8 victory in the third.
Florida was led on the offensive front by a 13-kill performance from Sofia Victoria. Thayer Hall followed with 11 kills in the match on a .556 clip, while Bre Kelley and Merritt Beason recorded six and five kills, respectively.
Marlie Monserez led the Gators to a .387 clip in the match, dishing out 38 assists in the process.
As a team, Florida recorded eight blocks at the net and held the Rattlers to -.026 clip on the night. Lauren Forte, Beason and Kelley each posted a team-high three blocks in the match, while Monserez and Victoria pitched in two blocks apiece in the victory.
Hall led the backcourt defense for the Gators, recording nine digs in the match, just one shy of a double-double. Elli McKissock registered eight digs in the three-setter, while Victoria added seven.
UF posted 12 service aces in the match, tied for the 2nd-best performance in an NCAA Tournament match. That mark is also the highest total in the tournament during the rally-scoring era. Trinity Adams and Beason each recorded three service aces in the match - a career-high for Beason - while Hall and Monserez each added two.
The Gators advance to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, playing Miami on Friday at 7 p.m. in Exactech Arena.
No. 16 seed Florida (21-8, 14-4 SEC)
Florida A&M (25-7, 14-2 SWAC)
How it Happened
- The service play for the Gators was the difference maker to start the first set, with Florida taking the 12-5 lead behind three aces. After a Florida A&M timeout, Florida continued to roll - taking the 13-point lead at the 19-6 mark. The Gators closed out the frame with a 3-0 service run from Beason to take the first set 25-11.
- UF hit .414 in the first set while holding FAMU to a .042 clip. Beason and Victoria led the way with four kills apiece, while Hall and Kelley each registered three in the set.
- The Gators held the early 7-4 lead in the second set, but the Rattlers dug their way out of the hole, tying the frame at 7-all. The teams traded points until Florida strung together a 5-0 run to take the 15-10 lead. From that point on, UF closed out the set on a 10-4 run to pull ahead 2-0 in the match.
- Florida once again hit .414 in the set and held Florida A&M to a .000 clip. Victoria and Hall each posted five kills in the frame to lead the way, while Forte and Kelley registered two apiece.
- The third set was all Gators from the start, with Florida taking the 14-5 advantage. FAMU pulled to within eight at 14-6, but Florida closed out the set and the match with an 11-2 run to win the set 25-8.
- The Gators recorded a .318 clip in the final set, led by four kills from Victoria and three kills from Hall.
- With the victory, Mary Wise has now recorded her 1,000th career victory
- She is the first female Division I head coach to achieve the feat in the sport of volleyball and there is only one other active Division I coach with 1,000+ wins
- Overall, she is just the fourth Division I head coach to reach the milestone (Russ Rose - Penn State; Dave Shoji - Hawaii; Andy Banachowski - UCLA)
- Wise is the sixth active coach across all Divisions with over 1,000 victories: Peggy Martin (Spring Hill - DII), Russ Rose (Penn State - DI), Chris Catanach (Tampa - DII), Shelton Collier (Wingate - DII), Julie Jenkins (Trinity - DIII)
- Merritt Beason recorded a career-high three service aces in the match
- The 12 service aces are a rally-scoring era record for Florida in an NCAA Tournament match
- The last time every player on the team saw action was Sept. 11, 2021 against Baylor
- The last time the Gators held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage was Aug. 27 against San Francisco
- The Gators improve to 12-0 against the Rattlers, including a 9-0 record under Mary Wise
- Florida improves to 78-31 in NCAA matches, including a 77-30 record under Wise
- UF remains undefeated in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, moving to 24-0
- The Gators are 12-0 in three-set matches against Florida A&M Florida is 9-0 against the Rattlers in Gainesville, Fla. UF is 12-3 in three-set matches during the 2021 campaign
Thoughts from Coach Wise
"So fortunate to be able to play at home and to play as well as we did in the first round. Now, we put all our attention to getting ready for a very talented, well-coached Miami team."
The Gators are right back in action on Friday, taking on the Miami Hurricanes in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on ESPN+