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December 16, 2017

Rhamat Alhassan

Caroline Knop

Carli Snyder

Mary Wise

Kansas City, Mo.

Nebraska - 3, Florida - 1

THE MODERATOR: We welcome the Florida Gators under direction of head coach Mary Wise. Also joining us are student-athletes, Caroline Knop, Rhamat Alhassan, and Carli Snyder. Rhamat and Carli were both named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team. We'll start with opening comments from Coach Wise followed by questions for our student-athletes. Coach, your opening thoughts?

MARY WISE: Congratulations to Nebraska. I thought they played a very clean match. Obviously, they put a lot of pressure on us with both their serving and their backward defense. But we look at this match, and this match will not define the 2017 Gators. There is so much to be proud of in terms of what they accomplished, and on this night as other teams that have played Nebraska in the past month haven't had much -- any better luck either. That's a very, very well-coached team, very disciplined, that just took care of the ball exceptionally well tonight.

Q. Carli, you sat up there yesterday and talked about how the grit of your team is going to win the match tonight. What did Nebraska do to make it so hard for you to put balls down?
CARLI SNYDER: I think we knew that the serve-pass game was going to be crucial in this match, and they definitely won that game tonight. It puts us in a difficult position trying to play out-of-system balls. They're a great defensive team and a great blocking team. I think that when that got better, when our passing improved, we made uncharacteristic errors, it is a very tough environment. The grittiest of teams in that environment are going to struggle. And I think that was part of it as well.

Q. Set three you had some momentum, got into set four and it seems like things fell apart pretty quickly. Was it the passing break down from tough serves at that point that kind of dug you guys into a hole? How would you characterize the beginning of set four?
CAROLINE KNOP: I think partially it was passing, and then when we would have a pass, we couldn't find kills. Again, they played great. Hat's off to Nebraska. Unbelievable team. But, again, this loss isn't going to define our season. This isn't going to define Florida volleyball. So many great things happened this year to have that match be the one that we leave with, and so we found ourself in a hole in four and couldn't get out.

RHAMAT ALHASSAN: That's a good answer.

Q. Ladies, congratulations on a terrific season. When you look back at your team in Florida in this program, what are you guys going to take away?
CARLI SNYDER: I think I just want a chance to celebrate the year that we have had. There are so many wins, and anyone who plays college sports will know that a season -- you can't rest on a win for too long because you have another match coming up. We've had so many amazing moments. And a year ago in the NCAA Tournament we were out in the second round and said we are going to change some things. We were doing a press conference at the finals, and if that doesn't inspire people that they can make a change, you can shift the culture, you can bring a team together and create a common goal and really work. That's why you see the three of us crying up here because there is not a group that I would rather go until the very last day with.

Sure, there are gritty wins over USC at home in five. But I think what won us that match is no one could bear not to go to practice on Monday. It's that group that you want to be around. It's that type of people. That's the time of teammate you want to be.

When someone looks at the people on the court out there, sure, look at the amazing volleyball players. But you will never get there if you aren't a great teammate. You'll never get there if you don't love your Coach to death. You'll never get there if you don't look at the people in your class and want to play for them.

So I think looking back at this year, that is something I just want to celebrate what we've done because it's really great.

CAROLINE KNOP: Just to add to that, I think our goal from last year to this year was to change the culture, and if we did that we are going to be so happy leaving this program. That if everyone who comes after us works hard and enjoys each other, that that will be the biggest win for the three of us. That when somebody from Florida is holding that National Championship trophy in a few years, that's going to be us, and that would have been our change.

RHAMAT ALHASSAN: It's so hard to find a team that everyone likes each other, and I think that's what we had, and that's why we enjoyed it so much. That's kind of the reason why we wanted to change the culture. We were able to change the culture because everyone's bought in. Everyone wanted to be there. We had people getting up at 6:00 a.m. for lifts and happy to be there and wanting to be there and respecting our coaching staff, respecting every single person that goes to work and stays up. Our trainers who come in before us and leave after us. That's why we're here. It's kind of the people, the people are what made it fun and made us want to be here. It's made the last four years an amazing journey.

Q. How do you take what you built this season and move it forward with the group coming in next season?
MARY WISE: That won't be hard. The legacy that this group provided when they talked about the commitment level in terms of putting this team first and everything they did, the decisions they made, and the commitment level. What you would hope as a coach, when a team goes all in, that they get to reap the benefits and this group did. They played in the National Championship match. Did it end the way we wanted to? No. But their legacy will be felt for a really, really long time.

Q. Coach, your team held every Nebraska player except one below double-digit kills. What made Mikaela Foecke so hard for you to stop tonight?
MARY WISE: Mikaela was really, really good tonight. Her ability to terminate -- if I was to choose an MVP, it would have been Kelly Hunter. Mikaela has a great arm, but Kelly, I think was the best setter in the country, and I think on the biggest stage and on the biggest night, I think she was the best player on the floor.

Q. Coach, congratulations on another great season as well. If you could kind of share with us how special this senior group was for you?
MARY WISE: Yeah, that's going to be hard to really put into words. Unfortunately, we're going to have some time before the banquet -- and we'll celebrate. There is so much to celebrate. But each one of them and their personalities, their talents, those five are going to -- our world is in a good place with those five. I mean, the volleyball world and the world beyond that. That is one special group.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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