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UF Roundup: Gators volleyball team sweeps Crimson Tide

Special to Gatorsports.com

Florida's fourth-ranked volleyball team rolled through Alabama 3-0 at Exactech Arena on Friday to mark their home opener.

Florida cruised 25-18, 25-22 and 25-18 to improve to 3-0. The teams meet up again at 3 p.m. today. 

Thayer Hall had a dominating offensive performance, recording 19 kills and a .472 clip in the three-setter. T'ara Ceasar added 13 kills of her own, while Holly Carlton pitched in nine in the match on 14 swings for a .643 hitting percentage.

Marlie Monserez led the team to a .404 clip, dishing out 38 assists in the process. 

UF held Alabama (0-3) to a .193 clip, registering eight total blocks. In her first start, Nnedi Okammor registered a team-high and career-high five blocks, while Ceasar added three on the evening. Monserez and Carlton each recorded two blocks as well.  

Elli McKissock and Thayer Hall each recorded 11 digs, giving Hall her first double-double of the season. Paula Cerame added eight digs of her own, while Ceasar pitched in seven.

"Tonight speaks volumes to all parts of the offense," UF coach Mary Wise said. "From controlling the pass against a very good service team, to the set distribution by Marlie and then our hitters' ability to terminate."

Due to the football game on Saturday night, fans will be asked to park in the garage of the O'Connell Center lot. Overflow parking will be available at Flavet Field (following the Lot 5 signs).

SOCCER

Last Sunday in Florida's 4-2 loss at No. 11 South Carolina, Florida left seven players – and head coach – in Gainesville due to injuries or COVID-19 protocol. On Friday, the Gators welcomed back Georgia Eaton-Collins and Ashlyn Kane but were still without Burleigh and five players (Carina Baltrip-Reyes, Ava Kuyken, Kit Loferski, Kouri Peace and Deanne Rose) in the 2-1 home loss to Tennessee.

Tennessee (3-3-1) scored in the 27th minute when Claudia Dipasupil stepped in front of a Gator clearance attempt. Dipasupil took a couple of touches toward goal before launching a 25-yard left-footed shot that dipped under the crossbar for her first score of the season.

Jaida Thomas pushed the lead out to 2-0 with her near-post header off Dipasupil's corner kick in the 70th minute.

Freshman Maddy Rhodes' far post header off a Parker Roberts corner kick in the 81st minute added to the Gators' second-half push but UF couldn't find the equalizer.

Gators (1-4-1) had a few opportunities earlier in the match. In the 49th minute, Rhodes shot in the box kicked off the near post. In the 62nd minute, a pass above the box caught Roberts in stride as she made a diagonal run. Her 18-yard shot skimmed just over the crossbar.

Florida's fourth consecutive loss equals the program's longest losing stretch set in 2018 and matched in 2019.

"Ultimately, we can do tactically what we want to do but I think it comes down just us being more aggressive in going after the ball," Burleigh said. "Certainly we are frustrated and disappointed with the results but we always have a choice as to how we respond." 

Florida finishes regular-season play with a pair of road matches, at Kentucky on Nov. 6 and at Florida at Missouri on Nov. 8.

CROSS COUNTRY

Trevor Foley and Vasileia Spyrou led the way for Florida at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships at the University Club of Baton Rouge, La., on Friday.

Foley finished in 13th place at 24:19.2 in the men's 8,000-meter (8k) race, while Spyrou kept her impressive freshman season going with a 17th-place finish in 20:42.3 in the women's 6k race.

The men's team finished seventh on 200 points with Angel Vicioso (31st, 24:56.2), Ethan Geiger (47th, 25:12.1), Blake Lowery (51st, 25:17.2) and Reed Legg (69th, 25:41.4) following behind Foley to complete the top five.

The women's team finished ninth on 257 points with Emily Culley (59th, 21:42.3), Emily Jones (73rd, 21:59.6), Chloe Hyde (74th, 22:00.0) and Rylee Pustilnik (75th, 22:00.8) falling in after Spyrou to round out the top five.

Arkansas swept the SEC meets, marking the eighth consecutive title on the women's side.

This was the final race for the cross country team this fall with the ability to return to competition in the spring. Earlier this fall, the NCAA Cross Country Championships were moved to March 15 due to COVID-19.  

SWIMMING AND DIVING

The  Florida men's swimming and diving team opened up the season with a 164.5-134.5 loss at Georgia after a 252-day break from team competition. The Florida women lost to No. 4 Georgia 184-116.

Florida was led in the water by freshman Lain Shahboz, who would earn her first collegiate win in the 100 back in 54.86. In the 200 back, she would go on to finish in second place, touching in 1:59.84.

Vanessa Pearl opened up her junior campaign with a pair of B-cuts in the 100 (1:01.76) and 200 breast (2:13.36), while going on to post her best finish of the day with a runner-up bid in the 200 IM with a swim of 2:01.49.

Gators divers picked up right where they left off last season, sweeping both the 1 and 3-meter events. On the 3-meter springboard, Florida would take the top-three spots, led by Elizabeth Perez's winning tally of 343.13. Ashley McCool (318.75) and Emma Whitner (293.48) would secure the second and third spots, respectively. McCool would come back and post a 1-meter win with her top mark of 291.90.

The UF men picked up a total of five individual win, as well squeezing out the top time in the final relay of the meet. Robert Finke, Trey Freeman and Kieran Smith all posted the nation's fastest time in their event wins.

Finke posted a trio of top-three finishes in the first action of his junior season, highlighted by a victory in the 400 IM. Finke, the 2019 SEC Champion in the event, finished first by .50 seconds, securing an effort of 3:50.33. The Clearwater native also posted third-place finishes with a new personal-best in the 200 back (1:45.34) and an effort of 8:57.43 in the 1,000 free to open up the meet.

After missing the majority of last season to injury, Freeman touched first in the 200 free with a B-cut effort of 1:36.10. He would later go on to notch another B-cut with a second-place finish in the 500 free (4:19.46).

Smith, the reigning 2020 SEC Male Swimmer of the Year, started off his junior campaign with a B-cut winning effort in the 100 free, finishing first by a full second to his closest competitor with a swim of 43.35. Additionally, Smith hit a new personal-best time with a third-place nod in the 200 fly (1:44.74). 

Dillon Hillis also secured a victory in the 100 breast. Hillis, who currently owns the second-fast time in school history in the event, finished first with the top time of 54.73. In the 200 breast, Hillis would notch a second-place finish (2:00.59).

In his Florida debut, Leonardo Garcia showed up on both the 1 and 3-meter springboard. Garcia posted his first victory as a Gator with his top 3-meter tally of 399.83. He also finished in second on the 1-meter with a 6-dive tally of 321.60.