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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

No. 15 Florida's dynamic duo downs Tennessee

59 days ago
Florida Athletics
Photo: Florida Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 15th-ranked Florida volleyball team defeated the Tennessee Lady Vols in four sets on Wednesday night in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Gators improve to 11-3 on the year and 3-1 in the conference, while Tennessee falls to 8-8 overall and 2-2 in the league.

Florida took the first set in extras, grabbing the 26-24 victory to take the early match lead. The Gators followed with a 25-23 win in the second set, but the Lady Vols answered with a 25-16 win in the third frame. Florida closed out the match with a 25-20 victory in the fourth.

Marina Markova led the way for Florida on Wednesday night, securing the 17-kill performance in the match - a Florida-best for the senior. Sofia Victoria followed close behind with 12 kills, while Gabrielle Essix pitched in eight in the four-setter.

Merritt Beason (7) and Bre Kelley (6) combined for 13 kills on the night.

Alexis Stucky dished out 43 assists in the match, leading the team to a .275 clip.

As a team, Florida tallied seven blocks on the night, led by a team-high five from Kelley. Beason added three, while Essix posted two in the victory.

Elli McKissock paced the backcourt defense, coming up with the 12-dig effort. Beason and Stucky each pitched in 10 digs in the victory.

McKissock also lead the way behind the service line, recording a team-high three service aces in the match.

Florida returns to Exactech Arena for a two-match series against LSU beginning on Saturday. First serve for Saturday's matchup is set for 6 p.m., while Sunday's match is slated for a 3 p.m. start time.

Records No. 15 Florida (11-3, 3-1 SEC) Tennessee (8-8, 2-2 SEC)

How It Happened

  • After falling behind 2-0 early, the Gators went on a 4-0 run thanks in part to a McKissock service run to take the 4-2 advantage. The teams continued to trade points through the middle of the set, but the Gators won the battle to the media timeout, taking the 15-12 lead into the break. Out of the timeout, Florida took the four-point lead, but the Lady Vols pulled back to within one after a 3-0 run. The Gators continued to hold Tennessee at bay, taking the 21-18 lead to force a UT timeout. The Lady Vols used a 4-1 run out of that timeout to knot the set at 22-all and although it took extra points, Florida held on for the 26-24 victory to start the match.
  • Four different Gators racked up three kills in the first set: Kelley, Essix, Markova and Beason.
  • Tennessee once again took the early lead in the second set, but the Gators battled back with a 3-0 run to take the 4-3 lead. It was a back-and-forth frame through the middle of the set, but Florida utilized a 4-0 run behind the serves of McKissock to take the 19-15 lead and force a timeout by the Lady Vols. Tennessee fought back to tie the frame 23-23, causing Florida to call its second timeout of the set. Out of the break, Markova recorded back-to-back kills to secure the 25-23 win for Florida.
  • UF hit .444 in the second set, led by five kills from Markova and Victoria. Essix added three kills of her own, followed by Kelley's two.
  • With the Gators down one at the 10-9 mark, Tennessee strung together a 6-3 run to take the 16-12 advantage in the third. Florida got back to within two at 16-14, but the Lady Vols once again extended their lead to four to force a timeout by the Gators. Tennessee closed out on the frame on a 9-2 run to take the match to a fourth in Knoxville.
  • Markova led the way with three kills in the third frame, followed by two apiece from Stucky and Victoria.
  • The fourth set saw the two teams tied early, but Tennessee pulled ahead three to take the 11-8 lead. Florida pulled back to within one at 14-13, but the Lady Vols took the 15-13 advantage into the media timeout. Following the break, the Gators battled back with a 4-0 run to take the 17-16 lead. UF would not look back the rest of the match, taking the set 25-20 to move to 11-3 on the year.
  • Florida hit .371 in the final frame, led by six kills from Markova. Victoria added five kills, while Beason posted four.

Notables

  • Alexis Stucky recorded her third double-double of the year with 43 assists and 10 digs
  • The Gators improve to 55-13 in the all-time series, including a 51-8 record under Mary Wise
  • Florida is now 12-4 against Tennessee in four-set matches
  • The Gators improve to 26-5 against Tennessee in Knoxville
  • UF improves to 4-1 in four-set matches during the 2022 campaign
  • Thoughts from Coach Wise "At different points in the match, we had different people step up and we found a way."

    Up Next

    • The Gators return to Exactech Arena for a two-match series against the LSU Tigers beginning on Saturday
    • Saturday's first serve is slated for 6 p.m. on SEC Network +
    • Sunday's match is set to begin at 3 p.m., also on SEC Network +