The second National Semifinal featured another five-set match. This one was less expected after Florida jumped in front 2-0. Sure enough after Stanford grabbed the momentum and sent things to a fifth, Florida turned things around and found a way to take the fifth for the 3-2 win (25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 18-25, 15-10). Below, both teams talked with the media after the result as the Gators will play for the National Championship on Saturday night while the defending National Champions, Stanford, bows out after another Final Four berth and an overall strong season.
In the Regional Final vs. USC, Florida had to survive USC in five sets and were close to faltering because of struggles in serve receive. In this one though, they didn’t have a single reception error and the passing was night and day – especially in the sets they won. Florida head coach Mary Wise led off with that in the press-conference, as well as a subtle joke about being on the road in a Sea of Red.
“I think the difference in the match was as we anticipated. It was going to be the serve-pass game. And the fact that we went through a five-set match without giving up a single reception error and created at least enough first contact chaos against a very, very good offensive team. We feel very fortunate that we’re advancing to play this next road match. But we’re thrilled, we’re going back to work tomorrow.”
It seemed like two of the Gators seniors, Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder, were vital both in that regard as well as keeping the team afloat. They came up big in the fifth set, which Alhassan talked about.
“Definitely gut check. Our theme has kind of been we’ve found a way to win. We’ve always found a way to win, and that’s been the theme throughout the entire tournament. Going into a fifth set like that, it’s quick. It was just kind of going in and being able to be quick and know that, okay, this is short. How are we going to do it? Just kind of our mentality towards it.”
The entire post-match press conference with Wise, Shainah Joseph, Snyder and Alhassan can be seen below:
The Cardinal just couldn’t ‘find themselves’ early as Hambly noted, as they become the second straight defending champ to fall in the Final Four (the good news is Nebraska, the last team that happened to, is back in the title this year). Still, that slow start ended up doing Stanford in regardless of their explosion in the third and fourth sets. For whatever reason, they couldn’t rekindle that play in the fifth, which Stanford head coach Kevin Hambly discussed in post-match.
“I thought we had opportunities that we created in the fifth set. We didn’t pass well, and that started the kind of slide. We got aced once, I think, and then we got out of system. That’s a tough team to play out of system. I mean, Alhassan is an incredible blocker and they have a great right side blocking team. We knew going into it we had to pass well. But even going through that we created these opportunities.
Carli Snyder had a couple of great swings, and I thought, you know, it was a chance to go 11, 11-10. It was 11-9 and we had a chance, we’re coming back. We get what we want, a high ball outside, and she took a great swing, a high flat. She did it again to get to 12. They made plays. Meghan was taking swings and she was doing her best, but we didn’t get the same on our side. They made plays and we didn’t get the plays at the end.
It’s a credit to them. I thought Carli played great in the end. We had a beat on her in the third and fourth. We were doing a nice job, and she really turned it around. You could see they played more determined, and it started from the service line. I think we started to serve a little more aggressive.”
The entire post-match press conference with Hambly, Meghan McClure and Kathryn Plummer can be seen below.