FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The No. 22 Florida volleyball team took the first match of the series after a straight-set victory over Arkansas on Friday night in Barnhill Arena.
The Gators improve to 16-6 overall and 10-2 in league play, while the Razorbacks fall to 17-7 in the 2021 campaign and 8-5 in the SEC.
UF took the first set with a commanding 25-12 victory and followed with a 25-19 win the second frame. The Gators secured the match with a 25-20 victory in final set.
Florida's offensive attack was led by a 17-kill, .552 hitting percentage performance from T'ara Ceasar, while Lauren Forte followed with eight kills of her own in the three-setter. Merritt Beason posted seven kills on the evening, while Bre Kelley added five in the victory.
Marlie Monserez led the team to a .365 clip on the evening, dishing out 35 assists in the process.
The defensive effort at the net was the gamechanger on Friday night, with the Gators recording 12.0 blocks and holding Arkansas to a .118 clip. Forte posted a team-high 10.0 blocks in the three-setter, setting a new season-best mark. Monserez added four blocks of her own, while Ceasar followed with three.
Elli McKissock led the Orange & Blue's defensive effort in the backcourt, finishing the match with 17 digs. Monserez pitched in nine of her own, while Beason and Thayer Hall registered eight digs apiece.
Florida recorded four service aces in the win, led by two from McKissock.
The Gators are right back in action on Saturday to close out the series with the Razorbacks. First serve is slated for 6 p.m. ET on the SEC Network + and can also be heard on the airways of ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM.
No. 22 Florida (16-6, 10-2 SEC)
Arkansas (17-7, 8-5 SEC)
How It Happened
- The Gators jumped out to an early lead in the first frame, thanks in part to a 4-0 service run by Ceasar to force a Razorbacks timeout at the 10-4 mark. Florida continued to hold Arkansas at a distance through the middle of the set, with the closest margin being five points at 16-11. The Gators pieced together a 7-0 run behind the serves of Beason to take a commanding 24-11 lead and closed out the frame with a Forte/Monserez block to go up 1-0 in the match.
- UF hit a stellar .519 in the first set, while holding Arkansas to a .053 clip. Ceasar led the way with seven kills, followed by three from Forte and two apiece from Kelley and Beason. Forte added a set-high five blocks to secure the victory.
- With the second set tied 6-6, Florida exploded on a 7-1 run behind a combined Ceasar and Adams service run, forcing Arkansas to use its first timeout of the frame. Out of the break, the Razorbacks strung together a run of their own to pull within two at 15-13. That was the closest Arkansas would get the rest of the way as Florida closed out the set on a 10-6 run to go up 2-0 in the match.
- UF hit .400 in the second frame and once again held the Razorbacks to below a .100 clip (.059). Ceasar posted four kills in the set to lead the way, followed by three from Beason.
- The Gators took the early 5-2 lead in the third set and continued to extend the lead through the middle of the set, going into the media timeout up five at 15-10. Arkansas pulled to within one at 16-15, but Florida answered with a 3-0 run to take the 19-15 lead and force a Razorbacks timeout. Out of the break, UF was able to extend its lead to six at 23-17, but Arkansas began to dig itself out of the hole, pulling to within three at 23-20. The Gators stopped the run and closed out the match with a 2-0 burst to extend its win streak to five matches.
- Florida closed out the match hitting .382 in the final frame, led by six kills from Ceasar.
- UF extends its win streak to five matches
- Lauren Forte registered 10.0 blocks in the match, a new season-high and just one off her career-best
- T'ara Ceasar posted her 18th match in double-digit kills during the 2021 campaign
- The Gators improve to 47-3 against the Razorbacks in the all-time series
- Florida is now 28-1 in three-set matches against Arkansas
- The Gators improve to 19-2 against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark.
- UF is now 13-1 in three-set matches during the 2021 campaign
- The Gators improve to 2-0 in the month of November
- Mary Wise now sits at 995 career wins, just five away from reaching the 1,000-win milestone
- With her 35 assists today, Marlie Monserez is now just 68 assists away from reaching the No. 5 spot in program history for career assists
- With her four kills in the match, Thayer Hall is now tied for 14th in program history for career kills with 1,207 (Carli Snyder and Aurymar Rodriguez)
Thoughts from Coach Wise
"Approaching this series as you have to - it is two matches. Tonight, we scored enough points between our blocks and our kills, but we know tomorrow could look very different."
- The Gators are back in action on Saturday to close out the series with the Razorbacks
- First serve is slated for 6 p.m. ET on the SEC Network +
- The match can also be heard on the airways of ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM