Special to The Sun
ORLANDO – The 13th-ranked Florida volleyball team defeated Florida State in straight sets Thursday to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Gators (25-6) will play Florida Gulf Coast (27-6), a 3-2 winner over host UCF (27-4) in the other first-round match at The Venue, at 7 p.m. Friday. Florida moves to 22-0 in the first round of the tournament.
UF took the first set, 25-21, then followed with a 25-20 win in the second frame. Florida clinched the match with a convincing 25-13 win in the final set.
“This was one of our most complete performances all season,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “One of our goals has always been to be playing the best volleyball at the end. Tonight was the perfect indication of how this team has grown and evolved. They have fought through adversity and have taken on challenges.
“The growth that this team has done, both individually and collectively, is far more important than the number.”
The Gators were led offensively by Paige Hammons, who posted 16 kills during the match, tying her career-best. Rachael Kramer and Thayer Hall followed with nine kills apiece, while Taelor Kellum posted seven.
Allie Monserez dished out a team-leading 20 assists – her 29th time leading the team in assists this season. Marlie Monserez added 16 assists of her own during the match. Allie Gregory led the backcourt defense for Florida, tying her career-best 22 kills. Paula Cerame also posted eight digs on the evening – tying her career-best
As a squad, the Gators notched 11.0 blocks, led by nine from Rachael Kramer. The junior also had nine blocks the last time these two teams met in September, a 3-1 win in Tallahassee. FSU’s season ends at 19-10.
Florida has now won at least 25 matches in each of the 28 seasons under Wise.
This is the first NCAA Tournament appearance for FCGU, which lost 3-0 in 2012 in the only match against the Gators in program history.