By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
The No. 13 Florida volleyball team continued its strong recent play by defeating South Carolina, 3-0, Wednesday before an Exactech Arena crowd of 2,279.
The Gators prevailed by scores of 25-17, 25-19 and 25-19 to improve to 14-3 overall and 5-1 in Southeastern Conference play while the Gamecocks fell to 11-8, 3-4. The win was the 12th in the last 13 matches for Florida.
UF hit .548 and .478 in the first two sets, but only .121 in the third.
“I think we were very clean from the beginning, especially in our offense,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “Our serve-receive, the first contact, the setter-hitter connection – thus the pretty eye-popping numbers in the first two sets.
“To ask a team to maintain that is a little bit tough through all three. But I think the biggest difference in the third set was the play of South Carolina.”
Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall led Florida with 11 kills and added five digs, while middle blockers Lauren Dooley and senior Rachael Kramer each had eight kills while hitting .583 and .429, respectively.
In addition, Dooley picked up SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after posting 17 blocks in wins over Arkansas and Texas A&M last week. Highlighting her efforts was a 12-block performance in Florida’s sweep of Arkansas.
It was the third-highest blocking mark in a three-set match in program history.
“I think the biggest thing is just to keep up your performance,” said Dooley, a 6-foot-6 sophomore. “You just need to be consistent in the things you’re doing.”
Right-side hitter Holly Carlton had seven kills on 13 attempts, hitting .538, while outside hitter Paige Hammons added six kills and six digs.
Senior libero Allie Gregory had a match-high 13 digs while sophomore setter Marlie Monserez finished with a match-high 37 assists.
The Gators, who hit .368 for the match, also had seven service aces, led by two each from Carlton and Monserez.
Middle blocker Mikayla Robinson led the Gamecocks with a match-high 12 kills while libero Addie Bryant had a team-high 10 digs.
After committing just four hitting errors in winning the first two sets, the Gators had six in set three but pulled out the sweep with a gritty effort.
“I think that coming off that Texas A&M match where we were up two sets and then ending up having to play a fifth set, we decided we needed to come out and play our game from the start,” Hall said. “We definitely showcased that tonight.
“Sweeping South Carolina, obviously they’re a great team. They gave us challenges at times, so we decided to take into our own hands.”
Next up, the Gators travel to Baton Rouge for a match with LSU Sunday at 2 p.m.