By Jim Harvin, Correspondent
Sunday’s volleyball contest against Tennessee marked the halfway point of No. 13 Florida’s 18-match Southeastern Conference schedule.
So far, so good for the Gators.
UF defeated the Vols, 3-1, winning by scores of 25-18, 25-20, 20-25 and 25-17 to improve to 17-3 overall and 8-1 in conference action before an Exactech Arena crowd of 2,933 and an SEC Network audience.
The victory, Florida’s sixth in a row, was the 15th in the last 16 matches for coach Mary Wise’s squad, which remains tied for the SEC’s top spot with No. 16 Kentucky. Tennessee fell to 9-11, 3-7.
“There were moments in that match where we saw the signs of why Tennessee is such a tough out,” Wise said. “You can see why Tessa Grubbs is an All-American. There were times when our block and our back row defense was doing their job, but she was just better. The speed of their offense challenged us, and they’re a really good team. But I was thrilled with our execution.”
Florida hit a solid .309 in the win, placing four players in double-digit kills. Leading the way was Paige Hammons, who recorded a season-high 15 kills and added 11 digs for a double-double.
“I thought Tennessee played great, including their outsides,” Hammons said. “They had a great game against us, but I thought we played really well together as a team.”
Thayer Hall had another double-double as well, finishing with 13 kills and 11 digs, while senior Rachael Kramer also had 13 kills. Holly Carlton added 10 kills and seven digs while setter Marlie Monserez also had a double-double with a match-high 42 assists and 18 digs, tying senior libero Allie Gregory for match-high honors in the latter.
UF outblocked Tennessee, 8-7, led by four block assists and a solo block by Lauren Dooley. The Vols were led by Grubbs’ 22 kills and .429 hitting percentage, with teammate Lily Feits adding 14 kills and 10 digs for a double-double.
Next up, Florida travels to face No. 25 Missouri at 9 p.m. Wednesday in its only action of the week.
“We’re really excited to have another competitive game,” Monserez noted. “We put in a lot of work this week for all three of these matches, and the third one is Missouri. That will be a good one.”
NOTES: Entering Sunday’s match, Florida was ranked in the top-3 in three different categories in the SEC: hitting percentage (2nd, .271), opponent hitting efficiency (2nd, .172) and blocks per set (1st, 2.66). Individually, Hall was fifth in points per set (4.48), eighth in service aces per set (0.30) and sixth in kills per set (3.85), while Monserez was fourth with 9.96 assists per set. Gregory was fourth in digs per set (4.24), Dooley was second in blocks per set (1.23) and Hammons was third in aces per set (0.35).