By Jim Harvin
Top-ranked Florida got a stiff test from visiting LSU but managed to prevail in straight sets with a hard-fought 25-17, 26-24, 25-23 win before an Exactech Arena crowd of 2,723 Sunday in the O’Connell Center.
UF improved to 11-0 overall and 3-0 in the Southeastern Conference while the Tigers slipped to 11-4, 2-2.
“LSU for years has been known as that team that plays that very tenacious, gritty back-row defense,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “How many balls did they bring back? Balls that normally go for kills, they kept bringing them back. You can see why they had such a great pre-conference.
“They’re going to get somebody. Maybe it’s lucky we don’t have to play at Baton Rouge this year.”
The Gators were led by senior outside hitter Carli Snyder, who led all players with 19.5 points on 16 kills, two service aces, a solo block, and a block assist while adding eight digs defensively.
Snyder’s 16 kills fell short of the season-high 19 she had in a three-set win over Lipscomb, but her .394 hitting percentage was a season-high mark.
In addition, freshman Paige Hammons had 10 points on nine kills and two block assists with six digs, while senior middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan just missed double digits with eight kills and three block assists for 9.5 points.
“It was definitely a tough match,” Alhassan said. “LSU pushed back, like they did some really good things. They played great.
“We’d much rather have that challenge of a team pushing us back. We don’t want them rolling over. That doesn’t make anyone better.”
Sophomore middle Rachael Kramer, who matched Alhassan’s .400 hitting mark, and redshirt senior right-side hitter Shainah Joseph, who hit .500 with no errors, each had five kills, while redshirt junior setter Allie Monserez added 19 assists and four digs.
Senior libero Caroline “CK” Knop had another solid all-around effort, recording a team-high 11 digs and adding five assists while sophomore setter Cheyenne Huskey added 13 assists.
The Tigers were led by freshman Taylor Bannister’s 12 kills and 12 points, while senior outside hitter Gina Tillis had a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs en route to 10.5 points.
As a team, UF hit a solid .353 while holding LSU to a .182 mark.
The Gators improved to 43-14 all-time against LSU while extending their current winning streak over the Tigers to 12 straight matches.
Florida continues its four-match homestand with contests against Texas A&M (Wednesday at 7 p.m.) and Georgia (Sunday at 1:30 p.m.) in the week ahead.
“They are a much-improved team from last year, and we knew that going in,” Knop said of the Tigers. “We had a great scouting report, but we didn’t quite follow it the way we could have or should have. It’s definitely something that we talked about post-match, and we’ve got to get a lot better before Wednesday against Texas A&M.”
UF soccer team wins
The No. 10 Gators scored three goals in the second half Sunday to beat Georgia 3-0 in Athens, Ga.
Florida improves to 9-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC, while Georgia falls to 4-7-1 and 0-4.
Briana Solis scored at the 53:53 mark to put UF up 1-0. Then Georgia allowed an own goal for a 2-0 UF advantage at 60:36.
Freshman Madison Alexander settled the final margin with a goal in the 87th minute.
Goalie Kaylan Marckese had five saves in picking up her third shutout.