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#10 Florida - Cardinal Classic Preview
#10 Florida - Cardinal Classic Preview
Published by BeckysTXA
#10 Florida - Cardinal Classic Preview

Dayton is in Louisville, KY this weekend for the first three matches of 2019. This is one of the toughest pre-conference tournaments in the country featuring Texas A&M, #25 Louisville and #10 Florida. On Friday, #10 Florida swept #25 Louisville 3-0 and UD lost a 5 set thriller to TXAM (23-25, 25-22, 18-25, 27-24, 13-15). The three sets Dayton dropped were by a total of 11 points. Texas A&M registered 11 aces in the match, ironically the exact point margin.

#10 Florida - Saturday, August 31 @ 4:30 pm

Things get a lot tougher on day two of this tournament. When I said teams will have MORE elite-talent than Dayton this weekend I should have said we will be going up against one of the most loaded teams in the country. Basically you have to be a Top 100 recruit to play for Florida’s Head Coach Mary Wise. That is not a typo. Top 100…not Top 250. 12 of Florida’s 16 players are Top 100s. UD has three 100s. Florida has ten Top 50s including last year’s #1 recruit. You can’t pick a few key players to highlight in a Florida preview...you simply list them because they’re all elite and experienced. Of special note is there are no freshman on this team.

#1 6-3 So OH Thayer Hall
#7 6-1 Jr OH Paige Hammons
#8 6-3 Sr MB Darrielle King
#24 6-0 So S Marlie Monserez
#25 6-2 So RS Haley Warner
#25 6-7 Sr RS Holly Carlton
#28 6-8 Sr MB Rachael Kramer
#33 6-3 Sr OH Morgyn Greer
#39 6-4 Sr OH Mia Sokolowski
#47 6-1 So OH Tara Ceasar (Redshirt this year)
#58 6-6 So MB Lauren Dooley
#95 5-7 So L/DS Riley Fischer
250 5-6 Sr L Allie Gregory
250 5-8 So L/DS Paula Cerame

And now we know the value of scheduling that exhibition against #12 Pittsburgh and the tough match we played yesterday against Texas A&M. Both will make Dayton better, but we’ll have to improve our passing to battle Florida. Ten of the top 11 on this list are hitters and the other is their setter. Our block and defense will be challenged as will our serve receive. Our hitters will also have to contend with a huge Florida block. Against Louisville the Gators averaged 4.67 blocks per set. Stanford lead the nation last year at 3.40. Florida returns three All-American hitters (Kramer, Carlton & Hall). Florida’s Sophomore class was ranked #2 with Hall as the top recruit in the nation last year. Here’s what Prepvolleyball.com had to say, “Hall, the 2017 Gatorade National POY and (#1 recruit), will be the standard bearer for this class…Hall should be Florida’s kill leader from the very first match and a four year-collegiate All-American.” Hall had 12 kills off 29 swings against Louisville.

Florida is not only talented, but tall…really tall. Carlton is 6’7”and Kramer is 6’8”. This is the only team Dayton faces this season that is taller than the Flyers. They will score. It comes down to stopping them during critical points in each set. It won’t be easy because they have an iconic head coach who knows how to prepare her team and manage a match. Wise has amassed the 5th-most DI wins (931), the 2nd-highest winning % of active DI coaches (.845), eight Final Fours, 72 NCAA Tournament wins (7th-most in DI), 15 SEC COYs, and three AVCA DI National COY awards – one of only two coaches in history with three.

I don’t think we will beat Florida. They simply have another level of talent and experience on the court. The Gators are the only team on our schedule I’m predicting a loss. I believe we will go 25-3 this season. Florida will be one of our losses and we will drop another match or two somewhere during the season. I thought we could beat the Aggies and we could now go 0-3 this weekend. This is one of the toughest pre-conference tournaments in the country. It would not be a surprise if all four of these teams are ranked sometime this season.

But, because we played and won an awesome tune-up match against #12 Pitt, there is a chance we can upset Florida. It will take the Gators making some mistakes and because they are so deep in talent, most of the mistakes will have to be of the mental-variety. We will have to play better than any Flyer team has ever played. We have never upset a Top 10 team, but we have several things the team can lean on. First, the confidence we can play with ranked teams. Even with the Texas A&M loss yesterday, it was a match that came down to 2 points in the 5th set. We’re healthy for the first time in a couple years and our experience and talent on the court is a mile higher than last year when we seriously challenged two Top 20 teams. It should be noted this team had no fear of highly-ranked opponents last year. The Flyers will expect Florida to score points and build some runs, but they are learning how to fight back, believe in each other and raise their level of play individually and as a team. The Flyers will get after it early in this match and if they can go into intermission no worse than 1-1, the upset chance will be real.

Second, UD will be the underdog. UD is the “little mid-major”. Florida is a storied program with an iconic coach in the mighty SEC. But do not underestimate the Gladiator-mentality of this UD team going up against a giant. You underestimate that mentality and you will get beat.

Third, with ten Top 250s on the roster, the Flyers can set up practice with two teams of elite talent getting after each other. Everyday in practice, the Flyers compete against some of the best players in the country. As good as Horsmon’s system has been in developing players, the added value of having this level and depth of competition in practice can only make every player better. It’s great we now match up on paper against most ranked teams, but it’s the value of what’s going on in the daily practice grind that will help us have a chance to upset teams.

Fourth, if Florida has a weakness, it’s in their serve receive and passing skills, which could prove fatal. They have hitters by the truckload and they have a great setter. But, can they handle getting the ball to their setter so she can utilize all of their talented hitters? Can Dayton’s serving be “aggressive-enough” to keep the Gators on their heels and out-of-system? Can Dayton’s hitters get past Florida’s block and cause havoc in the back row either finding the floor for a kill or causing bad passes? Can we exploit the Gator’s weakness to score during critical points in each set? It’s a tall order and we have some similar weaknesses. Can our serve receive bounce back and take-no-prisoners in this match? Can we limit overpass errors and aces in serve receive?

Finally, we have Horsmon & Company. As far back as his first year at UD, Horsmon has gone up against ranked teams and knocked them off with his in-match management of the game-plan. We also have Associate Head Coach Alyssa D’Errico who spent four years at Penn State winning championships and finishing each season ranked #1. Not only does the team have no fear, neither does this coaching staff. Bring it on. This program wants the challenge. Prepare. Play. Learn. And, just maybe, knock off a Top 10.
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By Chris R on 08-31-2019, 01:05 AM
Well done! Need a big bounce back.
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