Florida advances to regional final with a 3-1 win over Ohio State

Special to Gatorsports.com

Eighth-seeded Florida advanced Sunday night to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament with a 3-1 win over ninth-seeded Ohio State in the CHI Health Center at Omaha, Neb.

The Gators (21-3) moved into the regional final for the 17th time in program history where they will face top-seeded Wisconsin (17-0), which swept 16 seed BYU 3-0 on Saturday night. That match will be played at 6:30 p.m. Monday on ESPNU and can be heard on AM-850/98.1-FM.

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Florida knocked off Ohio State (16-4) in the regional semifinal, 25-20, 26-24, 23-25, 25-16. In the pivotal second set the Gators rallied from 24-20 down to take a 2-0 lead.

"If we're going 1-1 into the third set this match would have looked different," UF coach Mary Wise told ESPN. "Not only did it allow us to go up 2-0, but it gave our players a lift to know we could make that kind of run against a good Ohio State team.

"It was a fun match to coach. Two teams battling, not every rally was clean, but good things were going on."

T'ara Ceaser had a strong match as she led the Gators with 17 kills on .239 hitting. Thayer Hall had 11 kills, Marlie Monserez had 35 assists and 15 digs and Elli McKissock had 19 digs.

The block was difference maker for Florida, with the squad tallying 17.0 on the night, all while limiting the Buckeyes to a .139 clip. 

Lauren Dooley led the way at the net, totaling 8.0 blocks, while Lauren Forte added seven. 

“Much of the win can be attributed to our serving and blocking," Wise said. "Against such a good offensive team like Ohio State, our defense was the difference."

A win over Wisconsin would put the Gators in the national semifinal Thursday when they would face the winner of four seed Texas and five seed Nebraska match. The national championship match is Saturday.

"Wisconsin is a great team," Wise said. "They check every box. We are thrilled to still be playing and we'll take our chances."