GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Fifteen kills each for sophomore middle Rhamat Alhassan and junior right side Alex Holston helped guide the No. 11 Gators past Mississippi State Friday on the eve of Homecoming in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
Florida (18-4, 10-3 SEC) chalked up its ninth straight victory via the sweep of the Bulldogs (14-11, 3-8 SEC), the Gators' eighth sweep in their last nine contests (25-18, 27-25, 25-28). Senior setter Mackenzie Dagostino tied her season high for assists in a three-set match, with 46, as she executed UF's winning offensive efforts. Alhassan hit a team-high .591 with three blocks, Holston .481. Sophomore outside hitter Carli Snyder, who has just three errors in her last five outings, hit .429 on the afternoon. Senior Simone Antwi hit .444, while fellow classmate Živa Recek turned in a .333 clip to complete UF's potent offense that collaborated for a .451 efficiency on the night.
Senior libero Nikki O'Rourke helped stabilize UF's defensive efforts with 18 digs in the back row, her most since 23 against Auburn Oct. 11, and was key in closing out set three with a six-point serving run that gave the Gators match point at 24-17 with one of her multiple service aces against the Bulldogs.
After jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first, Mississippi State got into a rhythm to tie the set at 8-8. The Bulldogs kept it close until Florida used a 9-3 run to take control at 20-13 and close it out for the final differential, 25-18. The second was a different story, requiring extra points as MSU came out firing on all cylinders to keep the Gators on their toes. UF trailed for a better part of the frame, which featured nine ties and just one lead change -- when Florida used two Holston swings to break a 25-25 tie for the 27-25 final in favor of Florida.
Battling from behind again in the third and final frame, Holston gave the Gators their go-ahead score at 16-15 shortly before O'Rourke stepped behind the service line for her final run.
Up next, a Sunday road swing to the plains to face Auburn a second time will wrap up the weekend of play for the Gators. UF is 20-1 on the road at Auburn Arena. Last time out, Florida swept the Oct. 11 meeting between the squads 25-23, 25-21, 25-18 in Gainesville. The Tigers host South Carolina in Friday night action.