MADISON, Wisc. - The 16th-ranked Florida volleyball team defeated No. 4 Wisconsin in a five-set thriller on Friday night, while setting a regular-season NCAA attendance record of 16,833 fans.
With the victory, Florida moves to 8-2 on the year heading into SEC play, while Wisconsin falls to 5-2.
In front of a record-setting crowd, the Gators put on a show in the first set, taking it 25-21 - that was the first opening set that Wisconsin had dropped since Sept. 2. Florida then followed that performance with a 25-18 victory in the second set to pull ahead 2-0 in the match. It took extra points in the third, but Wisconsin claimed the set 28-26 before following with a 25-13 victory in the fourth. Florida then battled back from a deficit in the fifth to claim it 15-13.
The Gators' defense at the net proved to be the difference maker, with Florida holding the Badgers to a .115 hitting efficiency. As a team, UF tallied 16.0 blocks in the five-setter, led by seven from Bre Kelley. Alexis Stucky and Marina Markova each added five in the victory, while Gabrielle Essix added four.
Florida's offensive attack was led by a career-high 21-kill performance from Merritt Beason. Essix pitched in 10 kills, while Markova added eight in the victory.
Alexis Stucky controlled the tempo of the match for Florida, dishing out 45 assists - tying her career-best mark.
Elli McKissock led the backcourt defensive effort for Florida, finishing the match with 18 digs. Trinity Adams added 10 digs of her own in the win, while Beason and Victoria tallied eight and six, respectively.
Beason posted a team-best three service aces in the victory, followed by one apiece from McKissock and Emily Canaan.
The Gators begin conference play on Wednesday against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Exactech Arena. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +.