KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The No. 8 Florida volleyball team won its seventh-straight contest after defeating the Tennessee Lady Vols in three sets on Friday afternoon in Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Gators improve to 12-2 in the 2020-21 campaign, while Tennessee falls to 6-6 on the year.
Florida took a tight first set 25-23, then battled in extras to grab the second set 29-27. The Gators held all the momentum in the final set, winning 25-16 to secure the sweep.
UF had an incredibly balanced offensive attack on Friday afternoon, with T'ara Ceasar (12) and Thayer Hall (11) combining for 23 kills.
Lauren Forte posted eight kills of her own on 15 swings, tying her season-best mark. Marlie Monserez followed with a seven-kill performance, a career-high for the junior setter.
Monserez dished out 36 assists as well, averaging 12.00 per set.
The Gators held Tennessee to a .157 clip in the match, notching 11.0 blocks at the net. Lauren Dooley and Holly Carlton led the way with five blocks apiece, while Hall pitched in two.
Freshman libero Elli McKissock led the Gators in the backcourt, registering 19 digs in the match. Monserez followed with 12, while Ceasar added 10 - both securing their fifth double-double of the season.
As a squad, Florida finished with five service aces, including two apiece from Ceasar and Hall.
Records: No. 8 Florida (11-2, 11-2 SEC) Tennessee (6-5, 6-5 SEC)
How It Happened
Tennessee grabbed the 6-3 lead early in the first set, but the Gators battled back to tie it up 7-all. The teams traded points, registering seven ties before the media timeout. Florida took the 15-14 advantage into the break and took its largest lead of the frame at 18-15. Tennessee would pull within one multiple times throughout the back-half of the set, but a Monserez kill secured the 25-23 victory for Florida. Forte led the way with four kills in the first set, while Ceasar, Hall, Carlton and Dooley each pitched in three kills of their own.
For the first time over the last two matches against the Lady Vols, Florida jumped out to the early lead, forcing a Tennessee timeout after the Gators took the 6-1 advantage. Tennessee continued to chip away, eventually tying the frame at 13-13. From that point on, neither team held more than a two-point lead until the Gators pulled ahead 24-21 late. The Lady Vols strung together a 2-0 run, forcing Florida to call a timeout with the 24-23 lead. Out of the break, Tennessee tied the set at 24-24 and the two squads would see three more ties until the Gators were able to capitalize on two-straight Tennessee errors to take the set 29-27. Florida held Tennessee to a .140 clip in the second frame, while Ceasar and Hall led the way offensively, with five and four kills, respectively.
The Gators controlled the third set from the jump, hopping out to the 6-2 lead. After a timeout by the Lady Vols, Tennessee pulled to within one at the 12-11 mark, but Florida exploded with a 10-2 run to take the 22-13 advantage late in the frame. It was all Gators from that point on, with Florida securing the 25-16 victory. The Gators stifled Tennessee's offense in the final frame, holding the Lady Vols to a .025 clip. On the offensive side, Ceasar and Hall each recorded four kills, while Monserez tallied three of her own to go along with 10 assists in the set.
- Marlie Monserez picked up her fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 36 assists and 12 digs.
- T'ara Ceasar also picked up her fifth double-double of the year, recording 12 kills and 10 digs.
- Monserez also registered a career-high seven kills in the match.
- Lauren Forte tied her season-high in kills with eight kills.
- Florida improves to 53-13 in the all-time series against Tennessee.
- The Gators are now 41-2 against the Lady Vols in three-set matches.
- UF improves to 25-5 in Knoxville, Tenn.
- Florida improves to 10-0 in three-set contests this season.
- .Florida closes out its February matches with a 4-0 record.
- The Gators have won seven straight contests, dating back to Nov. 21, 2020.
Thoughts from Coach Wise:
"This was a match where we had to grind it out. Kills were hard to come by due to Tennessee's defense. Really proud of our group's effort these two matches."
The Gators return to Exactech Arena for a two-match series with Arkansas beginning on March 5 First serve is slated for 6 p.m. for both Friday and Saturday and both matches will air on the SEC Network +