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Gator Invitational

Offensive attack leads No. 15 Gators past Cavaliers

160 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - No. 15 Florida closed out the Gators Invitational with a 3-0 record after sweeping the Virginia Cavaliers in front of a great crowd at Exactech Arena on Saturday night.

The Gators controlled the first set from the jump, winning 25-11 to start the match. Then followed with a decisive 25-7 victory before closing out the match with a 25-18 set three win.

Merritt Beason was named Tournament MVP, while both Marina Markova and Alexis Stucky found themselves on the All-Tournament Team.

The Gators were firing from all cylinders on Saturday evening, hitting an astounding .521 in the match. The last time Florida hit over .500 in a match was March 13, 2021 against Missouri. Markova led the offense with 14 kills, while Beason followed with 12 kills of her own on 17 swings for a .588 hitting percentage.

Bre Kelley also added nine kills on a .538 clip (9-2-13) and Gabrielle Essix posted six kills and a .667 hitting percentage to round out the main scorers for Florida.

Alexis Stucky captained Florida's offense, dishing out 33 assists in the sweep.

The Gators held Virginia to just a .141 clip on the night and tallied 4.0 blocks at the net, led by two from Essix and Kelley.

Trinity Adams led the backcourt defense for Florida, recording eight digs on the night. Beason followed with six, while McKissock (5) and Kelley (4) combined for nine.

Florida kept its strong serving up this match, totaling 11 services aces behind the line. Stucky led the way with a career-high five, followed by three from Beason and two from Markova.

The Gators are back in action on Tuesday when the Stanford Cardinal comes to town. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network.

No. 15 Florida (3-0)
Virginia (2-1)

How It Happened

  • After trading points to start the first frame, the Gators went on a 5-0 run behind the stellar serves of Markova, taking the 9-4 lead. Florida continued to build on its momentum, holding the Cavaliers at at least a four-point deficit from that point on. Stucky strung together a service run of her own, putting the Gators up 23-9 late in the first and Florida was able to close it out with two kills from outsides Markova and AC Fitzpatrick. Florida hit an astounding .571 in the first frame, led by six kills from Markova. Essix added four kills of her own in the first frame, while Beason tallied two in the victory.
  • The Gators continued their hot start to the match to begin the second frame, pulling ahead 10-3 before forcing the first Cavaliers timeout of the set. Out of the break, Florida went on a 5-1 run, thanks in part to three service aces from Beason. UF would only allow three more Virginia points the entire frame, winning the second 25-7 on back-to-back aces from Stucky. Florida absolutely dominated the second set, hitting .765 while holding Virginia to a .056 clip. Kelley, Beason and Markova each tallied four kills to lead the way offensively.
  • The third set was a tighter contest between the two squads, with neither team holding more than a three-point lead until the media timeout when the Gators pulled ahead 15-11. Out of that timeout, the momentum swung even further in Florida's direction, with the Gators pulling ahead seven points at the 23-16 mark. Virginia attempted to chip away, but Florida held on for the 25-18 victory. The Gators hit .357 in the final frame, led by five kills from Beason and four kills from Markova.


  • The Gators hit .521 in the match, the last time they hit over .500 in a match was on March 13, 2021 against Missouri (.513)
  • Alexis Stucky posted a career-best five service aces
  • Bre Kelley recorded a career-high four digs in the match
  • Florida moves to 4-0 against the Cavaliers in program history
  • The Gators are now 1-0 in three-set matches during the 2022 campaign

Thoughts from Coach Wise

"Tonight's win was a result from some aggressive serving and a very clean offense."

Up Next

  • The Gators continue their home stretch with a Top-15 matchup against the No. 14 Stanford Cardinal on Tuesday
  • First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network
  • Stanford holds the 8-5 series advantage over the Gators