Gator volleyball sweeps Seminoles
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Spurred on by an enthusiastic crowd of 3,023, the fourth-ranked Florida Gators turned back No. 17 Florida State, 3-0, in the O'Connell Center on Tuesday to move to 9-1 on the year while dropping the Seminoles to 6-4.
“I think people across the country may see 3-0, but that's not a reflection of just what a hard-fought match it was,” UF coach Mary Wise said.
“Interesting, it's kind of a reverse from a year ago. We made fewer unforced errors, and the blocking was the difference.”
The 25-20, 26-24, 25-23 win avenged a tough 3-0 loss (23-25, 22-25, 21-25) to FSU last year in Tallahassee that was the Seminoles' first win in the series since 1994 and ended a 21-match losing streak to the Gators.
“We knew that they had some big bangers, so we knew we had to block well and dig well,” redshirt junior libero Taylor Unroe said. “It definitely feels good.”
UF hit .255 to FSU's .216 for the match and outblocked the taller 'Noles.
FSU came out strong in each of the first two sets, taking a 4-0 lead in the first set and a 4-1 lead in set two before the Gators bounced back.
In the opening set, UF trailed 17-16 before ripping off five straight points to go up 21-17 and went on to win, with senior middle blocker Chloe Mann providing the clinching point.
As tight as the first set was, set two was even tighter, featuring 15 ties and six lead changes. UF took a 23-22 lead on a kill by freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston, but FSU responded with back-to-back kills from sophomore outside hitter Nicole Walch, who led all players with 14 kills, to reach set point at 24-23.
After a double contact call on FSU tied things up, Holston nailed a left-handed spike to make it 25-24, and sophomore outside hitter Ziva Recek, who shared team-high honors with Mann (12 kills), scored the clincher to put UF up 2-0.
The Gators then closed it out by taking control of set three, leading by as many as six points before a late Seminole rally. Trailing 24-21, FSU fought off two match points to close within 24-23 before sophomore Gabby Mallette stuffed Walch's last swing at the net to give the Gators the win.
“We dug ourselves out of a hole twice in set one and set two, and we knew that they were not going to go away,” said Unroe, who led UF's back row with nine digs. “When we came out of the locker room, we had the mindset of no messing around.”
Mallette finished with six kills and three block assists, while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Simone Antwi recorded a career-high seven block assists to go with five kills.
Holston had six kills with no errors and four block assists to go with a match-high .462 hitting percentage, senior setter Taylor Brauneis notched a match-high 36 assists, and Recek and junior defensive specialist Holly Pole from Ocala each backed up Unroe with seven digs apiece.
Olivera Medic followed Walch with 10 kills for FSU and also led the 'Noles with a .333 hitting mark.
With the win, UF improved to 29-3 against FSU under Wise (1991-present) and remained perfect (17-0) at home.
The Gators close out their non-conference schedule this weekend when they travel to Milwaukee, Wisc., for the Marquette Invitational.
UF will play host Marquette on Friday at 8 p.m. and play Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday at 7 p.m.