Match 4: Gophers visit Florida (9-3-23)

PALO ALTO, Calif. – The No. 8 Florida volleyball team took down the second-ranked team in the nation on Tuesday night, defeating the Stanford Cardinal in straight-sets.

The Gators improve to 3-0 for the fourth-straight season and the 27th time in program history with the victory tonight.

This is the seventh victory for Florida over a Top-2 team in program history, with the last sweep against a Top-2 team being Sept. 7, 2002 against No. 1 Stanford.

The Gators took the first set 25-17 to open up the match, then won a thrilling 29-27 victory in the second to take the 2-0 lead. Florida claimed the match with a come-from-behind 25-23 win in the final frame.

Florida's offensive attack was led by Kennedy Martin for the third-straight match, with the freshman right side tallying 16 kills with a 394 clip. Sofia Victoria and Kira Hutson each added nine kills in the victory, while middles Gabrielle Essix and Anna Dixon posted five apiece.

Sophomore setter Alexis Stucky led the squad to a .324 clip in the three-setter, dishing out 34 assists.

Martin and Dixon recorded four and two blocks, respectively in the win.

The backcourt defense was led by Stucky's 12 digs – her first double-double of the season and sixth of her career. Elli McKissock and Trinity Adams each followed with eight digs apiece, while Emily Canaan added five.

Behind the service line, Martin (2), Canaan (1) and Adams (1) each registered at least one ace.

The Gators open the home portion of their 2023 schedule with another Top-10 matchup on Sunday, taking on the No. 5-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. First serve is slated for 12 p.m. on ESPNU.

No. 8 Florida (3-0)
No. 2 Stanford (2-1)

How It Happened
  • The Cardinal took the early 4-2 lead in the first set, but the Gators went on a 4-0 run behind the serves of Canaan to take the two-point advantage. The teams continued to trade points, but Florida strung together a 4-0 run to grab the 15-11 lead heading into the media timeout. Out of the break, the Gators continued to hold the Cardinal at a distance, with Stanford getting no closer than three points the rest of the way. Florida went on for the 25-19 win to take the early match lead.
    • The Gators totaled 10 kills in the first frame, led by three from Martin. Victoria and Dixon each added two in the set, while McKissock posted four digs.
  • The second frame was another battle between the two teams, with neither squad holding more than a two-point lead through the majority of the set. Following the media timeout, Stanford went up three at 19-16, but the Gators used a 3-0 run behind the arm of Martin to knot the set at 19-all. It was back-and-forth from that point on, with UF having to win in extras 29-27. Florida found itself facing Stanford's set point twice, but back-to-back-back kills from Huston (2) and Martin (1), secured the win to put the Gators up 2-0.
    • The second set saw 18 ties and six lead changes, with Florida hitting .375. Martin posted eight kills, while Huston (6) and Victoria (4) combined for 10.
  • Once again, the third set was a tough fight between both teams, with the largest lead being three on both sides. The Cardinal went on a 3-0 run leading into the media timeout, taking a 15-12 advantage into the break. The Gators chipped away, eventually tying the set at 17-all. With the teams trading points late, Florida was able to use a 3-1 one to secure the sweep and move to 3-0 on the year.
    • UF hit .324 in the final frame, led by Martin's five kills.
  • Florida claimed its seventh victory over a Top-2 team in program history and the second sweep over a Top-2 team
    • The only other sweep the Gators have had over a Top-2 team was against No. 1 Stanford on Sept. 7, 2002 in Gainesville
  • The Gators begin the 2023 campaign with a 3-0 record for the fourth-straight year and 27th season overall
  • Alexis Stuckyposted her first double-double of the season with 34 assists and 12 digs
    • That was the sixth double-double of her career
  • Florida improves to 6-9 in the series against Stanford
  • The Gators move to 3-3 in three-set matches against the Cardinal
  • Florida is 1-0 in three-set matches this season
  • The Gators improve to 3-2 against Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif.
  • UF finishes the month of August with a 3-0 record
Thoughts from Coach Wise
  • "There were so many contributions to this victory – whether it was Trinity Adams play in the back row or Kennedy Martin's play in the front row. To beat a team of this caliber on the road, this is what it takes."
Up Next
  • The Gators open the 2023 home schedule against No. 5 Minnesota on Sunday
  • First serve is slated for 12 p.m. on ESPNU
  • The match can also be heard on the airways on ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM/850 AM

I am hoping the coaching staff decides on a DS for Landfair vs. Florida. At this point, in order to aid in Landfair's pysche, the coaching staff might just try it. Otherwise, we all know she will be the target on SR. So far I know I was not expecting this type of performance from Landfair.

We also know McGhie is so much quicker on the floor than Shaff...but cannot compare to her in blocking or floor defense. The coaches have not utilized Grote or Crowl in a 6R. Will we be seeing a 6-2 vs. Florida? Will we see McGhie or Gray also DS? Will we see a RS in 6R?

Minatee can run a slide and I am hoping she is available soon. I feel all three of our middles bring something different to the table and we could certainly use a middle game. Reminder that Texas MB's hitting percentages were better against us than their OH's.

We shall soon see what this coaching staff comes up with tomorrow.
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All of those things you mention in first two paragraphs would be good to try. They'd be the right moves to give a shot.

So they aren't going to happen.

Just going to sit in a 5-1 with Landfair 6ro. Can already feel it. It's what Hugh would do.

If we keep this up, we'll be unranked by the time conference play rolls along. When your best attacker is your setter, you've got problems.

The hitters didn't hit. Minnesota hit .149 for the match. On the plus side Minatee made her first appearance of the season.

Really poor performance today by the Gophers. KCook has his work cut out for him to get this team to play much better. The schedule doesn't get any easier next weekend either with two more Top 10 teams coming up. Could be staring at a 2-4 record.

Back into the grinders we go next week, facing undefeated Oregon and Stanford which is looking like a top team again, they just swept Texas. Could be looking at 2-4 record before the DCC.
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Disappointing match. It looked like Florida scouted the Gophers well and knew their tendencies. The Gophers looked tight. Florida outplayed the Gophers in most areas, especially on defense. The Gophers could not adjust. It was good to see Cook make some changes in the third set even though it was too late. He needs to make some big changes in practice and rotations before the next matches. Got to use the best defensive players more and figure out better positioning.

I am really wondering if KCook's decision on his quick changes is really helping this team that much.
The pros and cons that each player brings to the court on game day are rearing their ugly heads.

Against better teams, KCook's starting lineup needs a lot of work....evident in the last two matches. Also, I'm afraid it will continue unless he is willing to try a different lineup or possibly run a 6-2 offense. As of now our most ATHLETIC and EFFECTIVE hitter is Hanson and she is also our best option in Zone 1. The only pin not to play so far is Schnichels....and the last I was aware of is injured and in a boot.

The above is not the dilemma a coaching staff wants from an all around poor passing team. IMO KCook's hands are pretty much tied and has very little options. I do not know this for a fact, but I just have a feeling they were not expecting Z to be ineligible.
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Well, I know someone who is eligible. And there's no possible chance in hell that she passes/digs worse than Landfair and Wucherer have done in the last two matches. No possible chance.

There is obviously a deliberate, planned reason why Cook is leaving L & W in the fryer to sizzle. (Hell if I agree with it, but it's plain as day to see that it has to be true.) I can only hope it's for the reasons of building up their confidence/not making it seem like he's abandoning them. I don't know if I agree that having them struggle so badly is going help their confidence, but that has to be the play. I mean, we have to trust that he has some kind of plan ... right? Making $350k (or whatever it is) to be a volleyball coach?

That's just passing/digging.

Against Florida .... our hitting was just really bad.

Until proven otherwise, and I'm not how it will be, I'm going back to the well: this team brings out the worst in Schaff. It aligns with her skills, the worst that it can. She's an elite setter ... in everything except setting. Blocking, scoring, even defense, great. She cannot consistently better a bad pass. And she doesn't move well either. Her set location, I think constantly frustrates her OH. Her best sets are her backsets. Hence why Grote had success early and why Hanson is one bright spot (though with relatively few attempts). Minatee got a crack at some slides (or maybe just one ... don't recall now, other than for sure one that she didn't connect on).

If she had elite passing, she would be much better. And so would every other setting for a major program. That's not reality. Certainly not reality with L & W in the backrow.

Grote has a cannon ... but that's all she do. She either blasts the ball down, or blasts it into the block. And obviously doesn't play backrow. I don't know if Crowl is a better choice right now or not.

But what I do know is this: Landfair's hardest hit of the match -- and the season -- was a blast near the end of the 3rd set ..... from McGhie setting.

I think our best chance for success this season is going to come from playing a 6-2. And it's going to be DS'ing out our outsides.

Does Cook have the balls to make those moves? I don't think so. But would love to be surprised.

KCook did not inherit a passing team. If we are all honest about it, we could see this coming.

We have some fantastic hitters and blockers on this team, but yes we need someone healthy to run this offense. Does her digging, serving, blocking help us more than her setting for an entire match? Apparently, this coaching staff feels it does.

Also, besides a DS/L that has not seen any playing time, you can add another setter to that list.

The blocking will definitely have to pick up to compensate for the poor passing. Maybe we will see some fantastic creativity from this coaching staff starting this can only hope.

I have never watched Washington volleyball. I am wondering how similar, if at all, KCook is running this Gopher offense to his previous teams.

Landfair came to this program with a "hitch" in her swing. I don't remember seeing that at all last year. However, it was back for sure during their last match vs. Florida. Not sure if that is good or bad. Now, when it comes to her digging/passing, Hugh was able to hide that quite well. That option is not there this season.
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