Florida defeats LSU in straight sets

Rachael Kramer

By Jim Harvin, Correspondent

Led by three different players with 12 kills apiece, No. 13 Florida improved to 22-5 overall and 13-2 in SEC play with a hard-fought 26-24, 25-19, 25-22 win over LSU before an Exactech Arena crowd of 3,823 Friday night.

The Tigers played tough but succumbed to the volleyball sweep to fall to 11-15, 6-9, ending a four-match winning streak while the Gators won their third straight.

“I thought we were very fortunate to win the first set with the number of unforced errors that happened,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “We were pretty high error behind the service line and then the block timing wasn’t very efficient.

“It wasn’t that LSU was killing balls on the floor, but they were killing balls off the block. Blocking is one of those things that you have to find the timing and then it can come in bunches. After the first set, we did a much better job.”

Right-side hitter Holly Carlton and middle blockers Taelor Kellum and Rachael Kramer each had a dozen kills to pace UF, led by Kramer’s team-high .478 hitting mark that included just one error.

Kramer also led Florida with seven block assists, one more than Mia Sokolowski, while Kellum had three. Paige Hammons had six kills and eight digs, while libero Allie Gregory had a solid match, posting a team-high 18 digs to go with six assists.

The Monserez sisters (Allie and Marlie) combined for 35 assists, with 23 of those credited to senior Allie, who just missed a double-double with nine assists.

“I loved seeing the energy from the team tonight,” Carlton said. “At the beginning of this week, we kind of took a step all the way back to preseason talking about our team culture and how we react to winning points, how we react to losing points, and how we’re going to best support and engage with our teammates.

“I thought that was very clear, and you could just see the energy and feel it on the court tonight.”

Milan Stokes led LSU with 10 kills, while Raigen Cianciulli had 18 digs and Lindsay Flory had 21 assists.

The match was UF’s fourth in a row without freshman outside hitter Thayer Hall, who remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. She was again on the bench but did not dress for the match, with Wise noting that no specific timetable has been set for her return.

Next up, UF travels to face Georgia at 2 p.m. Sunday in a match to be televised on the SEC Network. The Gators will then travel to face No. 22 Tennessee at 5 p.m. Wednesday before hosting South Carolina at 7 p.m. Friday in the regular-season finale.