By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
Missouri made the big plays down the stretch and was able to escape Exactech Arena with a 3-2 win over No. 11 Florida, handing the Gators their first SEC volleyball loss of the season before a crowd of 2,651 Sunday.
The Tigers, winning their sixth straight match, improved to 18-4 and 8-2 in SEC play while the Gators, who had their 14-match winning streak come to an end, fell to 18-4, 9-1.
“It was a little bit of a strange match because of the point differential, but the first and fifth sets were more of a battle,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “We lost the first set because we made so many unforced errors.
“Kylie Deberg, it was the first time we’ve seen her. Our players will be better the next time. I thought Missouri played very, very well.”
The Tigers won the match by scores of 25-23, 16-25, 25-17, 13-25 and 17-15, rallying from a 9-4 deficit in the final set to pull out the win after a battle of two hours and 15 minutes.
Deberg was the star of the day, finishing with a match-high 21 kills and just missing a double-double with nine digs. She also had three service aces.
Dariana Hollingsworth had a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs, Leketor Member-Meneh added 10 kills and seven digs and libero Riley Sents had 15 digs, while setter Andrea Fuentes posted a match-high 47 assists and added three aces and seven digs.
UF was led by Rachael Kramer’s 10 kills and .438 hitting percentage, while freshman Thayer Hall also had 10 kills and 12 digs for a double-double.
Senior setter Allie Monserez also had a double-double, finishing with 23 assists and 11 digs, while libero Allie Gregory had a team-high 14 digs.
Paige Hammons, Holly Carlton and Mia Sokolowski each recorded nine kills for UF.
In addition, after recording 23 team blocks in their win over Ole Miss Friday, the Gators reset their all-time record with 23.5 blocks in Sunday’s loss, with senior Taelor Kellum leading the way with 13 block assists.
“I have to give Missouri a ton of credit,” Kramer said. “Every time we play them, it’s an amazing match. Unfortunately we didn’t execute to the best of our ability.
“The sets that we won, we really did what we were supposed to do and you could see it reflected in the score. But in the other sets, we just let some things go that in the end cost us the match.”
The Gators do not return to the court until next Sunday when they travel to face Mississippi State.
Three days later, UF faces Kentucky on Halloween night in Lexington before returning to the Exactech Arena to host Arkansas Nov. 4 at 4 p.m.
Soccer: At Columbia, Mo., a goal in each half gave Missouri (6-9-2, 3-5-1 SEC) a 2-0 win over Florida (5-9-3, 3-4-2).
“The second goal was truly a back-breaker for us. I thought we started the second half really strong,” UF coach Becky Burleigh said. “Came out with some good opportunities and pressure on them. But I think we got a little impatient when that didn’t pay off and the second goal was the back-breaker.’
Florida concludes SEC regular-season play Thursday against Arkansas starting at 6:30 p.m. at The Diz.