Gators sweep Razorbacks for 22nd SEC title

Florida's SEC champion volleyball team. (Courtesy of UAA)

Published: Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 5:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 5:58 p.m.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Florida volleyball team topped Arkansas in straight sets (34-32, 26-24, 25-15) on Saturday, clinching at least a share of the program's 22nd SEC title.

Florida's 22 SEC titles are tied for the 10th-most in conference history in any sport, regardless of gender. The Gators' 22 league titles are also the fourth-most by any SEC team, regardless of sport or gender, since 1979, the first season the conference crowned a volleyball champion.

“Now we look at it like we're 0-0," UF coach Mary Wise said. "Every team going into the NCAA Tournament is 0-0. Happy to win at least part of an SEC championship, but now we move forward.”

With a win Saturday night, Missouri, which enters match with Tennessee at 15-2 in league play, can make this the first split SEC title since 2004.

Three-time All-American right side Alex Holston led the Gators (26-3, 16-2 SEC) with a season-high 24 kills, tying Jenny Manz (Oct. 13, 1996) for the most by a UF player in a three set match since at least 1996. It was also just the 15th time this season any Division I player tallied 24-plus kills in a three-set match. Arkansas finishes at 9-21, 7-11 SEC.

“From afar it will look like a 3-0 win, but anybody who saw it knows it was much closer than that," Wise said. "A senior-laden Arkansas team played very well. Fortunately, we got an All-American performance from Alex Holston to pull out this one.”

Holston notched 11 kills in her first 14 attacks, and went on to total 14 in the opening set alone. The four-time All-SEC honoree racked up another seven kills on 11 attacks in the second set, and added three more on her only three attacks in the closing set.

But Holston was just one of four Gators who finished with double-digit kills, as junior All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan (12), freshman middle blocker Rachael Kramer (10), and 2016 All-SEC outside hitter Carli Snyder (10) joined her in double figures. The last time four Gators had double-digit kills in a sweep was last year against Oregon (Sep. 4).

Redshirt sophomore setter Allie Monserez set up nearly all of UF's 61 kills, amassing 52 assists, the highest three-set total by a Gator since Angie McGinnis had 52 in a sweep of Oklahoma back on Nov. 30, 2007.

The Gators will learn their NCAA Tournament first-round matchup today at 9 p.m., when the 64-team field is revealed during the selection show on ESPNU. Wise is scheduled to make an appearance in the second half of the hour-long broadcast.

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