By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
Led by a match-high 15 kills from outside hitter Thayer Hall, the No. 13 Florida volleyball team improved to 16-3 overall and 7-1 in Southeastern Conference play Friday with a 3-0 sweep of Alabama before an Exactech Arena crowd of 2,847 at the O’Connell Center.
The red-hot Gators, winning for the 14th time in the last 15 matches, prevailed by scores of 25-18, 25-16, 25-16 to drop the Crimson Tide to 11-8, 3-5.
Florida, one of three teams tied for the league’s top spot, hit a solid .391 and was on-point from the service line, racking up eight aces while committing just four errors.
“The serving from the beginning of the first set through the third set was very effective for us, just in terms of being able to keep Alabama out of system,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “But credit their two left sides. They both had really good matches. It wasn’t until the third set that we really started making some better decisions both in the front row and the back row.”
Hall, who took 31 attacks with no errors, set a new career-high with her .484 hitting mark and added three block assists and five digs to her numbers, while middle blocker Lauren Dooley had seven kills with just one error on 11 attacks for a .545 mark.
Rachael Kramer hit .500 with five kills and added four block assists; Paige Hammons had six kills, seven digs and a match-high four service aces; and Marlie Monserez had 25 assists with six digs and three kills
“It’s a new week, so we wanted to come out and focus on our confidence on the court and then put all of our components together,” Dooley said. “In the beginning, we were a little rocky and a little late with our hands all over the place, but we usually block in bunches and get better and better as the match goes on.”
Defensively, Florida doubled Alabama in team blocks, 8-4, and also topped them in digs, 39-37.
Doris Carter led the Tide with14 kills.
Next up, Florida hosts Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I think our defense definitely struggled a little bit in the first two sets,” noted Allie Gregory, who led UF with 13 digs. “But I’m proud of us for finding adjustments and getting better in that entire match.
“We didn’t start bad and end bad; we started bad and ended great. That’s a good sign, and we’re going to carry that into Sunday.”
It will be a short turnaround for UF.
“The good news is our left-side blocking was improved, we served the ball well and we passed well,” Wise said. “There were some good moments, and the goal will be we’ll need everybody’s A game come Sunday.”