Gators, Gamecocks split their volleyball matches

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The fourth-ranked Florida volleyball team dropped a tightly-contested five-set match to South Carolina on Thursday.

The Gators move to 5-1, with two matches left to play. South Carolina finished the fall portion of its schedule with a 5-3 record.

South Carolina took the first set 25-21, but the Gators answered with a 25-17 win in the second frame. Florida took the 2-1 match advantage after a 25-21 victory in the third set, but fell 25-13 in the fourth to force a deciding fifth frame. The Gamecocks edged the Gators 15-12 in the final set to give Florida its first loss of the year.

Florida’s offensive attack was led by Thayer Hall, who recorded 20 kills in the five-set match. The last time a Gator recorded 20 or more kills was on Nov. 17, 2019, when Hall registered 22 against Kentucky.

T’ara Ceasar added 18 kills of her own, to go along with a team-high 14 digs for her first double-double of the season. Holly Carlton recorded 12 kills, while Nnedi Okammor finished with a career-high seven. 

Marlie Monserez led Florida’s offense, dishing out 48 assists in the process. She also recorded 11 digs for her second double-double of the season. Elli McKissock recorded a career-high six assists in the match as well.

As a team, Florida registered 10.0 blocks, led by seven from Lauren Dooley. Hall and Okammor each pitched in three blocks of their own on the afternoon. 

Four Gators recorded double-digit digs in the match: Ceasar (14), McKissock (12 – career-high), Cerame (11) and Monserez (11). The last time four Gators recorded at least 10 digs in a match was Nov. 17, 2019 against Kentucky. 

Florida finishes the fall portion of its schedule on Nov. 20/21 when the Georgia Bulldogs (3-3, 3-3 SEC) come to Exactech Arena. Friday night’s match is slated for a 7 p.m. start, while Saturday’s first serve is set for 3 p.m.

First match Wednesday

Florida topped South Carolina, sweeping the Gamecocks.

Florida moves to 5-0 after again not dropping a set. The last time a UF team started 5-0 without dropping a set was 2011, when the team began the season 6-0.

"Thayer(Hall) and Holly (Carlton) were particularly good offensively and our blocking game continues to be a strength of this team,” UF coach Mary Wise said.

The Gators won the first set handily, defeating South Carolina 25-17 in the frame. Florida continued to control the momentum, winning the second frame 25-17 and then closed out the match with a tightly-contested 25-22 win in the third set.

Thayer Hall led the offensive charge for the Gators, notching 13 kills and a .400 clip on the evening. Holly Carlton was close behind, finishing with 10 kills on 18 swings for a .500 clip.

T’ara Ceasar posted nine kills, while Marlie Monserez added six to round out the offensive attack for Florida. 

Monserez anchored Florida’s offense, dishing out 29 assists in the three-setter. Monserez led the team to a .319 clip on the evening, the team’s second-best performance of the season.

As a squad, the Gators collected 9.0 blocks, led by the trio Lauren Dooley (5), Nnedi Okammor (4) and Carlton (4). Hall also added three blocks of her own during the match.  

Paula Cerame posted a career-high 19 digs in the three-setter, surpassing her previous career-best of 14. Ceasar added a season-high 10 digs, while Elli McKissock registered seven on the evening.

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