NCAA volleyball: Top-seeded Louisville knocks out Florida

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LOUISVILLE, Kent. — Top-ranked Louisville proved to be too much for 16-seeded Florida to handle Thursday in the NCAA volleyball tournament regional semifinal.

Louisville (31-0), winners of 41 of its last 42 matches, eliminated Florida (22-9) in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-12 in front of 3,089 fans at Freedom Hall. It's Louisville's first win against Florida in nine tries all time.

"Congratulations to Louisville," UF coach Mary Wise said, "They played a very clean match. Certainly, their offense was significantly better than our offense today. Wish them the very best of luck going forward.”

The Cardinals will play the winner of eight-seeded Georgia Tech (25-5) vs. nine seed Ohio State (27-5) for the region championship at 6 p.m. Saturday at Freedom Hall in Louisville. The winner there advances to the national semifinals at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, next week.

U of L, the only undefeated team in the nation, allowed Florida to score the first three points of the first set before rattling off eight consecutive points to take a commanding lead.

“I’m so impressed with this team,” U of L coach Dani Busboom Kelly said. “I’ve been impressed all year, but I continue to be impressed just with our poise and mindset and confidence, and it just never falters.”

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The second set was a back-and-forth affair, and the Gators led 22-20 before Louisville put them away with five points in a row. The Cardinals then dominated the third set.

Florida’s attack was led by a 13-kill effort from Sofia Victoria, while Thayer Hall posted seven kills.

Marlie Monserez dished out 20 assists, to go along with four kills, three blocks and three digs. 

The Gators posted seven blocks, with Merritt Beason, Bre Kelley and Monserez each registering a team-high three blocks. Lauren Forte and Nnedi Okammor each added two blocks.

Beason led the backcourt defense for Florida, tallying eight digs. Elli McKissock added seven, while Hall and Victoria pitched in six and five, respectively. 

Trinity Adams and Monserez each had one ace apiece to lead the way behind the service line.

Notes: Florida made its 31st-straight NCAA appearance this season, the third-longest active streak in the nation. UF also extended its streak to 31-straight seasons of winning at least 20 matches, the longest active streak in the nation by nine seasons. The Gators are now 79-32 in the NCAA tournament, including a 78-31 record until Mary Wise