GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The 10th-ranked Florida volleyball team put on a stellar performance in front of a great crowd at Exactech Arena, sweeping the 18th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday afternoon.
The Gators have now won six-straight matches, improving to 21-4 on the year and 13-2 in the SEC. Kentucky drops to 17-7 overall and 12-3 in league play.
Florida remains atop the SEC standings, with now a one-match lead over the Wildcats.
UF cruised to the 25-18 victory in the first set and then followed with a 25-21 victory in the second to pull ahead 2-0 in the match. Florida then clinched the match with a come-from-behind 25-21 win in the third.
The Gators held the Wildcats - the sixth-ranked team in the nation in hitting percentage - to just a .135 clip on the night. It was the 12th opponent Florida has kept below a .150 hitting efficiency this season.
As a team, Florida tallied 8.0 blocks in the three-setter, led by five from Gabrielle Essix. Marina Markova added four of her own in the win, while Merritt Beason and Bre Kelley each posted three in the match.
Sofia Victoria led the offensive attack for the Gators on Saturday evening, finishing with 13 kills and a .579 clip. Markova added 11 of her own, while Beason and Kelley each pitched in a six-kill effort.
Freshman setter Alexis Stucky dished out 35 assists in the match, leading the team to a .310 hitting efficiency. She also added nine digs - just one off a double-double - and tied her career-high with five kills.
Elli McKissock came up with a team-high 15 digs in the backcourt for Florida, while Emily Canaan posted 10 in the victory. Trinity Adams and Beason each registered six digs to help secure the victory for UF.
The Gators are right back in action on Sunday to close out the regular season at home against Kentucky. First serve is slated for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network, with Courtney Lyle and Missy Whittemore on the call.
No. 10 Florida (21-4, 13-2 SEC)
No. 18 Kentucky (17-7, 12-3 SEC)
How It Happened
- After the Wildcats took the 15-13 lead into the media timeout, the Gators used a 4-0 swing out of the break to take the 17-15 advantage behind the serves of McKissock. Florida kept it rolling, pulling ahead five points at 21-16 to force Kentucky's second timeout of the frame. The Gators closed out the set with a 4-2 run to go ahead 1-0 in the match.
- Florida hit .233 in the first set, while holding Kentucky to a .100 clip. Victoria posted a team-high four kills in the frame, followed by three apiece from Stucky and Kelley.
- Kentucky jumped out the early 5-2 lead in the second set, but the Gators used an 8-2 run to swing the momentum in their direction and force a timeout from the Wildcats at the 10-7 mark. Florida continued to keep Kentucky at a distance through the middle of the frame, but the Wildcats cut the deficit to just one at 19-18 to force a timeout from UF. Out of the break, UK tied the set at 20-20, but back-to-back-to-back blocks by the Gators once again gave Florida the advantage at 23-20. UF held on for the 25-21 victory to take the 2-0 advantage in the match.
- UF hit a stellar .344 in the second frame, led by seven kills from Markova.
- The third set was a battle from the start, with neither team holding more than a one-point advantage until Kentucky took the 9-7 lead. The Gators battled back to tie the frame at 11-all, but the Wildcats once again pulled ahead, this time taking as large as a four-point lead at 19-15. Florida did not bow out, tying the set at 20-20 before ending the match on a 5-1 run.
- Florida hit .342 in the comeback third set, with Victoria posting a team-high seven kills in the frame.
- Marina Markova finished with 11 kills on the evening, her 18th match in double-digit kills this season
- Sofia Victoria finished with 13 kills on the evening, her 13th match in double-digit kills this season
- Alexis Stucky tied her career-high with five kills
- Elli McKissock posted her 21st match with double-digit digs, finishing with 15. With her 15 digs, she now has 1,143 for career, putting her 11th overall in program history
- The Gators improve to 53-19 in the all-time series against the Wildcats, including a 51-12 record under Mary Wise
- Florida is now 37-10 in three-set matches against Kentucky
- UF improves to 26-9 against Kentucky in Gainesville
- The Gators improve to 12-1 in three-set matches during the 2022 campaign
- Florida remains undefeated on Saturdays, moving to 9-0 on the year
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- "We had a number of different players step up and make plays and that's what it took for us to win that match against a very experienced, talented Kentucky team."
- The Gators are right back in action on Sunday to close out the regular season at home against Kentucky
- First serve is slated for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network, with Courtney Lyle and Missy Whittemore on the call.