“I’m so proud of the girls,” said head coach Michelle Patton. “We got on our game plan quickly. That was one of our goals, and to be able to adjust fast. I think they really focused on that and I thought they did a great job, which resulted in winning in three.”
The first two sets were evenly matched between the two teams, but it was clear from the first points of the third set that it was the Gators’ night.
“I think we mentally prepared for this game last night, carried the intensity from last night and just played like a team,” freshman Jazmine Williams said. “It felt so great to help my team win against their rivals. I’m just at a loss for words; so exciting.”
Williams had 12 kills and several key blocks for the team.
The teams retreated to their meeting rooms for the traditional post-second-set break, and when they returned everyone seemed like different players. Where the Pioneers had been slightly scattered and uncoordinated before the break, they were defenseless after. The Gators had used determination and luck to win the first two sets but they were going to make up for their mistakes in the third.
The Pioneers only scored two points back-to-back in the third set, while the Gators led by as many as 18 points twice.
“They made it look easy because they put in the hard work. I think that’s where the difference is when we are playing well,” Patton said. “They put pressure on that team.”
The team is already thinking about how to carry their momentum into a big road trip to Southern California next weekend, when the team plays three games in as many days.
“We’ll work on trying to stay consistent, longer. We’ve got three games in a row so we’ll have to be mentally prepared,” Robyn Hall said.
Teammate Iris Tolenada thinks this weekend proved they can do it.
“Knowing that we can take one game and win another one in three with just a day of preparation, it’s a good thing for a team,” she said. Tolenada played a crucial role in the win, leading both teams with 40 assists.
“It was just a collective team effort,” she said.
“We’re definitely going to use this for next weekend because we know we have to play the exact same way,” Williams said. “It’s intense with three whole games but we if we keep with our mental and physical toughness we can get through. We’re playing amazing right now.”