FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Florida volleyball team topped Arkansas in straight sets (34-32, 26-24, 25-15), clinching at least a share of the program's 22nd SEC title.
Florida's 22 SEC titles are tied for the 10th-most in conference history in any sport, regardless of gender. The Gators' 22 league titles are also the fourth-most by any SEC team, regardless of sport or gender, since 1979, the first season the conference crowned a volleyball champion.
With a win this evening, Missouri, which enters its 7:30 p.m. ET match with Tennessee at 15-2 in league play, can make this the first split SEC title since 2004.
Three-time All-American right side Alex Holston led the Gators with a season-high 24 kills, tying Jenny Manz (Oct. 13, 1996) for the most by a UF player in a three set match since at least 1996. It was also just the 15th time this season any Division I player tallied 24-plus kills in a three-set match.
Holston notched 11 kills in her first 14 attacks, and went on to total 14 in the opening set alone. The four-time All-SEC honoree racked up another seven kills on 11 attacks in the second set, and added three more on her only three attacks in the closing set.
But Holston was just one of four Gators who finished with double-digit kills, as junior All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan (12), freshman middle blocker Rachael Kramer (10), and 2016 All-SEC outside hitter Carli Snyder (10) joined her in double figures. The last time four Gators had double-digit kills in a sweep was last year against Oregon (Sep. 4).
Redshirt sophomore setter Allie Monserez set up nearly all of UF's 61 kills, amassing 52 assists, the highest three-set total by a Gator since Angie McGinnis had 52 in a sweep of Oklahoma back on Nov. 30, 2007.
No. 9 Florida: 26-3, 16-2 SEC
Arkansas: 9-21, 7-11 SEC
NOTABLES AND TRENDS
* Florida's 22 SEC titles since 1979 only trails Florida women's tennis (29), Arkansas men's cross country (24), and Georgia men's tennis (23) for the most by any SEC team, regardless of sport or gender, during that span.
* Among Florida programs, UF's 22 SEC volleyball titles only trail men's swimming and diving (37) and women's tennis (29) for the most all-time SEC titles.
* Florida last won the SEC title in 2014, posting an 18-0 record in league play that season.
* If Missouri wins this evening, it will be just the fourth time in league history and first time since 2004 the SEC crowned multiple champions.
o The only shared titles to this point are: 2004 (Florida, Tennessee), 1991 (Florida, LSU), 1986 (Georgia, LSU).
* Florida improves its all-time record against Arkansas to 38-4, including a 16-2 mark in Fayetteville.
o Today marked Florida's first sweep in Fayetteville since 2009.
* The combined 66 points in the first set marked the most in any set for the Gators since the 25-point scoring format was adopted in 2008, with their highest total prior to today coming in a 33-31 set win at LSU on Nov. 21, 2010.
* Alex Holston had six career 20-kill matches entering today, and she notched her seventh with the score at 17-15 in the second set.
* Florida also had four players with 10-plus kills at Ole Miss (Sep. 23) and against Tennessee (Oct. 2), both of which were four-set matches.
QUOTES FROM THE GATORS
Head coach Mary Wise on the team's victory...
"From afar it will look like a 3-0 win, but anybody who saw it knows it was much closer than that. A senior-laden Arkansas team played very well. Fortunately, we got an All-American performance from Alex Holston to pull out this one."
Wise on clinching a share of the SEC title and looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament...
"Now we look at it like we're 0-0. Every team going into the NCAA Tournament is 0-0. Happy to win at least part of an SEC championship, but now we move forward."
The Gators will learn their NCAA Tournament First Round matchup Sunday (Nov. 27) night at 9 p.m. ET, when the 64-team field is revealed during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on ESPNU. Head coach Mary Wise is scheduled to make an appearance in the second half of the hour-long broadcast.