The Florida Gator volleyball team opens its’ season on the road tonight. The fourth-ranked Gators will face the Auburn Tigers for game one of an eight-game 2020 season.
An Unexpected Year Causes an Unexpected Season
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world and nearly every sport, including volleyball. Two months later than usual, the Gators are ready to be back on the court. It might be a shortened season, but Florida is not taking any opportunity to play some volleyball for granted.
Head Coach Mary Wise is entering her 30th season on the sidelines for the Gators and has never experienced anything like this before.
She said that 2020 is something that no one could have prepared for, especially the student-athletes.
Masks. Safety protocols. Social distancing.
“Even adults can’t do what we are asking young people to do it,” Wise said.
The 2020 SEC volleyball season consists of an eight-match, conference-only schedule that will take last for six weeks. Each school will face four opponents throughout the season and face them on back-to-back nights. Thursday at 8 p.m. the Gators will face Auburn for game two.
What to Expect from Florida
The Gators are experienced. They lost four seniors to graduation, but return 11.
Among the returning players is junior Thayer Hall. She was named to the All-SEC Preseason team for the first time in her career. Hall saw action in 30 matches and started them all last season.
Along with many other honors, Hall was named to the 2019 All-SEC Team and was a two-time SEC Offensive Player of the week.
Coach Wise holds a 45-1 record over the Tigers. She is a veteran coach who has created a culture of success around the Florida volleyball program. Florida sits third all-time in program wins since 1984 with 1,033. The only schools in the country with more are Penn State and Nebraska.
Auburn vs. Florida Series
Last season, the Tigers went 7-22 overall and 1-7 in the SEC. Brent Crouch will make his head coaching debut for Auburn tonight against a Florida team that is projected to finish second in the league.
Florida leads the all-time series against Auburn 49-2
Tonight’s 8 p.m. match-up is the first of two contests between the Gators and Tigers in a 24-hour span. It will air on the SECNetwork.
Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.