Gators open spring home season with a sweep of LSU Tigers

Special to Gatorsports.com

The ninth-ranked Florida volleyball team closed out its series against LSU,topping the Tigers in a four-set battle Thursday night in Exactech Arena.

"We’ve talked about how one of our strengths was going to be our depth," UF coach Mary Wise said. "The way Holly Carlton stepped up running the 5-1, alongside the play of all three pin hitters — T’ara, Thayer and Mia — was the difference maker today.”

The Gators improve to 10-2, while LSU drops to 3-7 in the conference-only format.

UF won the first set 25-17, but LSU answered with a 25-22 win in the second frame. Florida grabbed the third set with a score of 25-20 and clinched the match with a 25-19 fourth frame.

The outsides came up huge for Florida, with T’ara Ceasar and Thayer Hall combining for 39 kills. Ceasar posted a season-high 20 kills with a .425 clip – also a season-best mark. Hall registered 19 kills on the night.

Mia Sokolowski posted nine kills on 15 swings for a .467 clip, while Lauren Forte added eight kills of her own with a .700 attack percentage.

Holly Carlton stepped up in the setting role for the Gators, leading the squad to a .300 clip in the match. Carlton posted a career-high 55 assists, while also adding seven digs, four kills, three blocks and three service aces.

The Gators held LSU to a .169 clip on the evening, while Lauren Dooley and Carlton each posted a team-high three blocks.

Elli McKissock was once again all over the backcourt, registering 22 digs. Ceasar notched a season-best 15 digs on the evening, securing her third double-double of year.

Paula Cerame recorded nine digs of her own, while Hall posted eight in the match.

As a team, Florida recorded seven service aces, led by Carlton’s three. McKissock and Ceasar each recorded two in the four-setter.

The Gators are back in action with a two-match series against Mississippi State beginning Feb. 19 in Starkville, Miss. Both matches are slated for a 6 p.m. first serve.

Match 1 Wednesday

Florida swept LSU. 

“There were lots of good performances, but certainly the play of Elli McKissock stands out," Wise said. "We battled tonight against a young LSU team that never stops fighting.”

The Gators took the first set 27-25 after a highly-contested battle with the Tigers, then followed with a decisive 25-15 win in the second frame. Florida closed out the match with a 28-26 win in the final set. 

UF once again had a well-balanced attack, with T’ara Ceasar leading the charge with 14 kills. Holly Carlton added 10 kills of her own on 18 swings for a .444 clip.

Thayer Hall and Lauren Forte each tallied eight kills apiece on the night — a season-best for Forte, the Cal-Berkeley transfer. Marlie Monserez dished out 39 assists in the three-set match, averaging 13.00 assists per set.

As a team, the Gators notched 11.0 blocks, led six from Lauren Dooley. Forte pitched in a season-high five blocks of her own, while Carlton and Monserez each posted four on the evening.

Elli McKissock was all over the backcourt, recording a career-high 24 digs in the three-set match. That number is the third-highest total in a three-set match at Florida in the rally-scoring era. Monserez added eight digs on the night, while Ceasar posted seven.

Carlton and McKissock each recorded two service aces on the night, leading the way behind the service line.