Gators take down No. 3 Kentucky in five-setter

Special to Gatorsports.com

 The seventh-ranked Florida volleyball team overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat the No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats on Friday afternoon in the O'Connell Center.

Florida extends its win streak to 12 matches — including three-straight wins over ranked opponents — and moves to 17-2 on the year, while Kentucky drops to 16-1 in the SEC only format.

“There was some seriously exciting volleyball played today, with a match that could have gone either way," UF coach Mary Wise said. "We like to think that both teams are better having played against one another.”

The first set went Kentucky’s way, with the Wildcats winning 25-18. The Gators answered, evening the match at 1-1 after a 27-25 victory in the second set. Set three went the way of Kentucky, with UK winning 25-17, but the Gators answered with a 25-16 victory in the fourth to force a deciding fifth set in Gainesville. The fifth set was tightly-contested, but Florida got the 17-15 decision to secure the match victory.

T’ara Ceasar exploded for 20 kills to lead Florida’s offensive attack, while Lauren Forte added a season-best 12 kills with a .579 clip.

Thayer Hall pitched in 10 kills of her own, while Holly Carlton and Lauren Dooley notched nine and seven, respectively.

Marlie Monserez dished out 50 assists in the five-setter, while McKissock added six helpers of her own.

The Gators recorded seven blocks in the match, led by four apiece from Dooley and Carlton.

Elli McKissock was one dig off her career-high, finishing the afternoon with 23 digs.

As a squad, Florida recorded nine service aces, led by three apiece from Carlton and Ceasar. Hall, Monserez and Paige Hammons each tallied one ace on the afternoon.

The Gators return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. to close out the series. The match will serve as Senior Day for Florida’s four seniors: Holly Carlton, Paige Hammons, Darrielle King and Mia Sokolowski.