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It was by far the most exciting match of the day. Florida was down two sets to one, trailed 24-23 in the fourth, and then by 9-5 in the fifth before rallying for a 25-23, 20-25, 18-25, 26-24, 15-11 victory.
“We want to congratulate Florida on a great victory tonight,” USC coach Mick Haley said. “So many times you’re talking about losing a match, but they won the match. That was as strong a battle as you are going to see in the NCAA Tournament because both teams went for it.”
“We have been so fortunate to be a part of some pretty amazing regional finals and this one will go up with all of them,” Wise understated.
Florida, playing at home before 3,741 in a match that took 2 hours, 32 minutes, got 15 kills from Shainah Joseph, who not only had three of them after her team trailed 23-22 in the fourth, but also the match-ender.
Rachael Kramer had 11 kills while hitting .476 after having one error in 21 swings, to go with four blocks. Rhamat Alhassan had 14 kills, hit .423 and had three digs and six blocks. “We have two more matches,” Alhassan said. “We are going to Kansas City and it was a great feeling stepping off the court knowing that we still have more to go.”
USC ended its season 25-10. The Trojans, who tied for second in the Pac-12, just couldn’t stop the Gators after they switched gears in the fifth. Sophomore Khalia Lanier had another tremendous match, leading with 26 kills while hitting .383. She had 15 digs and a block.
“Again, I have to give Florida a lot of credit because they did not back off. All in all, I am really proud of my team, they played their best volleyball at the end of the season. The last two or three weeks have been so fun to coach this team with the way they play and the way they represent USC,” Haley said.