No. 20 Gators down the Gamecocks in straight sets
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The 20th-ranked Florida volleyball team extended its win streak to eight matches after sweeping the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday evening in Exactech Arena.
The Gators improve to 19-6 on the year and 13-2 in the SEC with just three regular season matches to play, while the Gamecocks dropped to 14-12 overall and 6-10 in league play.
UF cruised to a 25-14 victory in the first set then followed with a 25-22 battle in the second. The Gators clinched the match with a 25-16 win in the final frame.
T'ara Ceasar led Florida's offense with 13 kills on the evening, while Thayer Hall pitched in 11 kills on a .611 clip in the three-setter. Bre Kelley added eight kills in the victory, followed by seven from Marlie Monserez and six apiece from Merritt Beason and Lauren Forte.
Monserez registered 40 assists in the match, leading the team to a .454 clip - the second-highest hitting percentage on the year.
As a squad, the Gators recorded eight blocks, led by five apiece from Kelley and Beason. Forte posted three blocks at the net, while Monserez rounded it out with two of her own.
Florida's backcourt defense was led by Elli McKissock and Hall, who each posted a 12-dig performance in the match. Monserez followed with eight digs, while Beason and Ceasar tallied six apiece.
McKissock led the Gators with two service aces, followed by one from Trinity Adams and one from Beason.
The Gators are right back in action Sunday to close out the home portion of the schedule against the Gamecocks. First serve is slated for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Records No. 20 Florida (19-6, 13-2 SEC) South Carolina (14-12, 6-10 SEC)
How it Happened
Florida cruised to the early 6-0 lead behind a Hall service run and three blocks from the duo of Beason and Kelley in the first set. The Gators continued to extend their lead, grabbing the eight-point advantage at 16-8 to force South Carolina to use its second timeout of the frame. Florida pushed ahead as many as 11 points at the 24-13 mark and closed out the set with a Sofia Victoria kill to take the 1-0 lead in the match.
The Gators hit a stellar .652 in the first set, while holding South Carolina to a .133 clip. Three players recorded three kills in the frame - Ceasar, Forte and Monserez - while Beason, Hall, Kelley and Victoria posted two kills in the set.
South Carolina jumped out to the 8-3 lead in the second set, forcing Florida to use its first timeout. The Gators battled back, pulling to within one at the 13-12 mark, but the Gamecocks created some distance with a 2-0 run to take the 15-12 lead. UF answered with a 5-0 run of its own to hold the 17-15 advantage midway through. South Carolina tied the frame once again at the 17-17 mark, but Florida burst ahead to the 21-18 lead to force the second SC timeout of the set. The teams traded points from that point on, but Florida came out ahead with the 25-22 victory to take the 2-0 advantage.
Hall and Ceasar each posted four kills to lead the way offensively in the second set, followed by three kills on a .750 clip from Kelley.
Florida took its momentum from the second set and grabbed the 13-7 lead in the third, forcing a timeout from the Gamecocks. Out of the break, the Gators continued to build their lead, pulling ahead 10 points at the 21-11 mark. South Carolina got back to within eight at 23-15, but Florida closed out the match with two Victoria kills.
The Gators hit .625 in the final set, led by six kills from Ceasar and five from Hall.
- Thayer Hall posted her sixth double-double of the season, finishing with 11 kills and 12 digs
- Florida has now won eight-straight matches
- The Gators improve to 60-9 in the all-time series against the Gamecocks, including a 54-3 record under Mary Wise
- Florida is now 46-2 against South Carolina in three-set matches
- The Gators remain undefeated at home against the Gamecocks, moving to 26-0 in the series
- Florida remains undefeated in the month of November, improving to 5-0
- UF improves to 15-1 in three-set matches during the 2021 campaign
- During the match, T'ara Ceasar eclipsed the 1,000-dig mark in her collegiate career
Thoughts from Coach Wise
"An overall solid offensive night. We were able to do enough things to slow down the really good arms that South Carolina brings."
- The Gators close out the home portion of their schedule against the Gamecocks on Sunday
- First serve is slated for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network
- The match can also be heard on the airways of ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM
- Sunday's match will serve as Senior Day for five Gators - T'ara Ceasar, Lauren Dooley, Lauren Forte, Thayer Hall and Marlie Monserez