Florida can’t hold back BYU in NCAAs

Holly Carlton led the UF offense Friday night vs. BYU, posting 16 kills during the match. [Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/File]

Special to Gatorsports.com

PROVO, Utah — Florida jumped to a 1-0 lead BYU in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament regional semifinal Friday, but couldn’t keep the fourth-seeded Cougars from rallying in the 3-1 loss.

“Hat’s off to BYU,” said Florida coach Mary Wise, who has more Division I wins than any female coach in NCAA history. “That’s a very good team that played well tonight after the first set. You can see why they are where they are, with their offense and defense.”

BYU (30-1) will play fifth-seeded Texas (23-4) at 8 p.m. Saturday in the regional final, the launching pad to next week’s national semifinals. The Longhorns dropped Michigan 3-1 in the other regional semi Friday at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse.

No. 16 Florida’s season ends at 26-7 after falling by scores of 23-25, 25-13, 25-17 and 25-19 in front of a sellout crowd of 5,104, the third-largest crowd to watch women’s volleyball in arena history.

“Being at home was obviously super helpful,” BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. “The crowd was unbelievable. I want to thank the crowd and obviously recognize them for showing up today and supporting us.

Holly Carlton led the UF offense on Friday night, posting 16 kills during the match. Paige Hammons added 11 of her own, while Mia Sokolowski pitched in eight. Allie Monserez dished out a team-best 21 assists – her 31st time leading the Gators in that category this season.

Allie Gregory led the backcourt defense for Florida, posting 13 digs on the night. That was her 30th time leading the team in digs this season. Marlie Monserez recorded her second double-double of the season, registering 11 assists and 10 digs.

As a squad, the Gators notched 8.0 blocks, led by a team-best four by Holly Carlton.

“After the first set, we knew to be successful, we would need to be so clean and get a little bit of help,” Wise said. “After the first set, BYU became very stingy with the points they were giving away.

“For our team to come in and battle, after all the injuries and as young as we are, I could not be more proud of himself. We came in here and battled hard.”

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