LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 4 Florida volleyball team moved back into a tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference standings with a sweep of No. 6 Kentucky, the program’s first sweep of a top-10 team since a 3-0 win at No. 6 USC on Sept. 12, 2014.
Wednesday was the fourth top-10 matchup in SEC history. Florida (19-1, 11-1 SEC) was 0-3 in the previous matchups, but winning the fourth is even sweeter considering it was the first matchup in history between two SEC teams ranked in the top six.
Florida’s hitting efficiency defense, ranked third nationally, stifled the nation’s fourth-ranked offense. Prior to Wednesday, Kentucky’s season-low hitting percentage was .199, and it hit over .300 in 13 of its 21 matches. The Gators held the Wildcats (19-3, 10-1) to a .170 clip, marking the third time this year they held a top-10 opponent at or below that efficiency.
The Gators’ offense was explosive yet again, notching a .327 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Carli Snyder and fifth-year senior right side Shainah Joseph were dominant. Snyder had the fourth-highest efficiency of her career (.517), amassing 15 kills, without an error, on 29 swings. Joseph tallied 12 kills and two errors on 21 attempts, registering a .476 clip.
Three-time All-American middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan was beastly as well, notching nine kills and one error on 16 swings (.500). Alhassan also recorded a match-high seven blocks, tying Benavia Jenkins’ (2000-03) school record for career total blocks (601).
Florida dominated the first set defensively, limiting Kentucky to a .029 clip. The Gators held off a late rally to win the second set, 25-23. And in the third, Florida erased 13-9 and 17-14 deficits, in addition to winning six of the match’s final nine points.
The win was No. 813 for Mary Wise as head coach of the Gators, passing Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Kris Russell (1981-04) for the 10th-most wins in history by a head coach at one NCAA school since 1981, the NCAA’s first season of women’s volleyball.
Gators face Aggies in SEC tourney semis
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – Two ranked teams remain in the Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament and they face off Thursday in the semifinal round. No. 17 Florida meets No. 11 Texas A&M in the second semifinal set for 7 p.m. ET at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.
Texas A&M (15-2-1) is the top-ranked team remaining in the field, as Arkansas upset No. 3 South Carolina 1-0 in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round. The Aggies are the tournament’s No. 2 seed after taking second in the league with its 9-1 SEC record. The Gators (14-5) took third in the SEC regular-season action with a 7-3 record. These two teams have taken each of the last five SEC Tournament titles (Florida – 2012, 2015, 2016; TAMU – 2013, 2014).
Florida has advanced to the SEC Tournament each year in the program’s history, winning 12 titles including the 2015 and 2016 crowns. When these two teams met Sept. 21 in College Station, Texas, the Aggies used a long-range goal in each half to take a 2-1 win.