Gators battle back to clinch Top-25 volleyball win over Tennessee

Special to Gatorsports.com
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Florida was led by T'ara Ceasar, who posted a season-high 25 kills with a .352 clip. Her 31.5 points were a record-number in a four-set match for the rally scoring era.

In a clash of Top-25 volleyball teams Thursday at Exactech Area, No. 23 Florida defeated No. 22 Tennessee in four sets.

The Gators improve to 15-6 on the year and 9-2 in the SEC, while Tennessee falls to 16-6 overall and 8-4.

"The match has an NCAA feel to it with so many of the great rallies and performances tonight," UF coach Mary Wise said. "The way Tennessee played in that first set, the 31.5 points scored by T'ara and the 26 digs by Elli – there were a lot of really good things happening."

Tennessee took the first set 25-22, but Florida responded with a 25-17 win in the second set. The Gators took the third set in a come-from-behind 25-23 win and closed out the match with a 25-16 victory in the fourth frame.

Florida was led by T'ara Ceasar, who posted a season-high 25 kills with a .352 clip. Her 31.5 points were a record-number in a four-set match for the rally scoring era.

Lauren Forte added 11 kills, while Thayer Hall followed with a 10-kill performance and Merritt Beason registered nine kills.

Marlie Monserez dished out 48 assists while leading the team to a .298 clip. With her 48 assists, she moved into the No. 6 spot in program history for career assists, surpassing Lauren Moscovic (3,306).

The Gators held Tennessee to a .177 clip – the Vols lowest efficiency of the season. UF recorded a total of 9.5 blocks, led by five from Forte. Beason and Lauren Dooley each pitched in four, while Ceasar added three.

Elli McKissock registered a team-high 26 digs to lead Florida's backcourt defense. Monserez posted 17 of her own for her eighth double-double of the year, while Hall recorded 12 for her fourth double-double in the 2021 campaign. Beason notched a career-high 11 digs of her own to round of the Gators in double-digit digs.

Ceasar led the way behind the service line, tying her career-high with five aces.

The Gators are back in action on Nov. 12-13 for a two-match series against the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Ark. Friday's first serve is slated for 8 p.m. ET, while Saturday's match is set to begin at 6 p.m.

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