FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The 22nd-ranked Florida volleyball team won a tightly-contested five-set battle over the Arkansas Razorbacks to close out the series at Barnhill Arena on Saturday evening.
Florida extends its win streak to six matches, improving to 17-6 on the year and 11-2 in SEC play. Arkansas drops to 17-8 in the 2021 campaign and 8-6 in the league.
Arkansas took the first set 25-16, but UF answered with a 25-17 victory in the second set to knot the match at 1-1. The Razorbacks took the third frame 25-18, but once again, the Gators responded with a 25-22 win to force a deciding fifth set. Florida took the fifth set in extras, winning 16-14 to clinch the pivotal league match.
T'ara Ceasar led Florida with a 23-kill effort, while Thayer Hall posted 14 kills of her own in the five-setter. Merritt Beason added 10 kills in the victory, followed by a career-high nine from Bre Kelley.
Marlie Monserez dished out 55 assists on the night to go along with five blocks.
The Gators tallied 12.0 blocks at the net, holding the Razorbacks to a .191 hitting percentage in the match. Kelley registered a team-high and career-high seven blocks, while Beason and Lauren Forte each tallied three blocks apiece in the victory.
Florida's backcourt defense was led by a 21-dig performance from Ceasar. Beason added a career-high 17 digs in the five sets, while Monserez recorded 14. Hall's 12 digs and Elli McKissock's 10 digs rounded out the performances in double-digits.
The Gators return to Exactech Arena on Wednesday for a midweek match against Auburn. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +.
Records No. 22 Florida (17-6, 11-2 SEC) Arkansas (17-8, 8-6 SEC)
How it Happened
- With the first set tied 4-4, Arkansas pushed ahead to the four-point advantage at 10-6. The Gators fought their way out of the hole, cutting the deficit to just two at 12-10 before the Razorbacks went on a 3-0 run to take the 15-10 lead into the media timeout. Out of the break, Arkansas closed out the set on a 10-6 run, taking the first set 25-16.
- Kelley led the way with four kills in the first set, followed by three apiece from Ceasar and Hall.
- Florida bounced back in the second frame, jumping out to the early 11-4 lead to force an Arkansas timeout. The Gators pulled ahead as many as 10 throughout the middle of the set, but the Razorbacks cut the deficit back to four at the 19-15 mark. Florida answered, closing out the set on a 6-2 run to tie the match at 1-apiece.
- The Gators hit .312 in the second set, while holding the Razorbacks to a .102 clip. Ceasar and Hall each recorded four kills in the frame to lead the way.
- The third set began as a back-and-forth battle, but with the frame tied 4-all, Arkansas pushed ahead on a 6-2 run to force a Florida timeout. The Gators pulled to within three at 11-8, but the Razorbacks swung the momentum in their direction, taking the eight-point advantage at the 18-10 mark. Arkansas continued to hold the lead, but Florida staved off four set points to pull within six at 24-18. The Razorbacks clinched the set with a Gillen kill to take the 2-1 advantage in the match.
- Ceasar recorded a set-high five kills for the Gators, while Beason added six digs in the set.
- Arkansas took a four-point lead early in the fourth set, but the Gators answered with a 6-2 run to knot the frame at 12-all. The teams began trading points, with Florida taking the 15-14 lead into the media timeout. Out of the break, the Gators continued to push, taking the six-point lead at 20-14. Arkansas battled back with a 6-1 run to force a Florida timeout at the 21-20 mark. Out of that break, the Razorbacks pulled ahead 22-21, but back-to-back Ceasar kills gave UF the 23-22 advantage. Florida closed out the set on a 2-0 run to force a deciding fifth frame.
- The Gators hit .281 in the fourth set, while holding Arkansas to a .118 clip. Ceasar posted a team-high six kills in the set.
- The Gators took their momentum from the fourth set victory and climbed ahead 5-2 early in the fifth. Arkansas continued to battle, pulling to within one at 7-6, but Florida took the 8-6 lead into the media timeout. Out of the break, Ceasar recorded back-to-back kills to put the Gators up 10-7, but once again the Razorbacks cut the deficit to one at 10-9. Arkansas took the 13-12 lead late, but Florida responded with a 4-2 run to secure the victory and extend its win streak to six matches.
- Florida closed out the match with a .303 clip in the final set, led by five kills from Ceasar and three apiece from Beason and Hall.
- T'ara Ceasar registered her 10th double-double of the season, finishing with 23 kills and 21 digs
- Ceasar's 21 digs were a career-high for the redshirt senior, besting her previous career-high of 20 (LSU - 10/10/21)
- Thayer Hall notched her fifth double-double of the year, finishing with 14 kills and 12 digs
- Marlie Monserez recorded her ninth double-double of the year, posting 55 assists and 14 digs
- Merritt Beason registered the first double-double of her career, tallying 10 kills and 17 digs
- Her 17 digs were a career-high
- Bre Kelley recorded nine kills in the match, setting a new career-high. Her 12.5 points on the night were also a career-best mark
- Kelley also tallied a career-high seven blocks in the five-setter
- The last time the Gators had five players in double-digit digs was Sept. 24, 2021 against Mississippi State
- The Gators improve to 48-3 in the all-time series against the Razorbacks
- UF is now 6-2 against Arkansas in five-set matches
- Florida moves to 20-2 against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark.
- The Gators improve to 2-1 in five-set matches during the 2021 campaign
- UF us now 3-0 in the month of November
- Mary Wise now sits at 996 career wins, just four away from clinching her 1,000th
- With her 55 assists today, Marlie Monserez is now just 13 assists away from securing the No. 5 spot in program history for career assists
- With her 14 kills tonight, Thayer Hall moved into 13th place in program history with 1,221 kills. She surpassed Kiysa Killingsworth (1,215), Carli Snyder (1,207) and Aurymar Rodriguez (1,207) in the match
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- "What an epic SEC battle. Arkansas played extremely well and I couldn't be prouder of this group and how they battled tonight."
- The Gators return to Exactech Arena on Wednesday for a midweek matchup against Auburn
- First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +
- Florida holds the 51-2 series advantage over the Tigers
No. 22 Florida vs. Auburn Broadcast Information
Date & Time: Nov. 17 | 7 p.m.
Live Stream: SEC Network +
Live Stats: Statbroadcast
Series Information - No. 22 Florida vs. Auburn
Tigers | 2021 season synopsis: 13-11, 5-9 SEC
- This is the 54th meeting between the Gators and the Tigers
- Florida leads the series 51-2 (47-1 under Mary Wise)
- 3-set: 38-0 | 4-set: 12-1 | 5-set: 2-1
- Home: 25-0 | Away: 24-2 | Neutral: 3-0 Last Time Out:
- Oct. 22, 2020 | Auburn, Ala. | W, 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-21)