KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Florida’s 15th-ranked volleyball team beat Tennessee Lady Vols in four sets Wednesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Gators improved to 11-3 in the year and 3-1 in the conference, while Tennessee fell to 8-8 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Florida got the first set in extra time, winning 26-24 to take an early game lead. Next was the Gators with a 25-23 win in the second set, but Lady Vols responded with a 25-16 win in the third bracket. Florida closed the game with a 25-20 win in the fourth inning.
Marina Markova took the lead for Florida on Wednesday night, securing a 17-kill performance in the game – a Florida best for the senior. Sofia Victoria followed closely behind with 12 kills, while Gabrielle Essix scored eight in a four-set set.
Merritt Beason (7) and Bre Kelley (6) combined 13 lives for the night.
Alexis Stucky made 43 assists during the game, leading the team with a .275 clip.
As a team, Florida placed seven blocks into the night, led by a five-high team from Kelley. Beason added three, while Essix scored two in the win.
Elli McKissock sped up the opposing defense, advancing with a 12-pass effort. Beason and Stucky each throw 10 times in victory.
McKissock also led behind the service line, scoring three team goals in the game.
Florida returns to Exactech Arena for a two-game series against LSU that begins Saturday. The first serve for Saturday’s game is set for 6pm, while Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 3pm start time.
No. 15 Florida (11-3, 3-1 SEC) Tennessee (8-8, 2-2 SEC)
How did it happen?
- After going 2-0 down early, the Gators continued their 4-0 lead thanks in part to McKissock’s service to secure a 4-2 advantage. The teams continued to swap points mid-set, but the Gators won the battle with media timeouts, leading 15-12 after the break. Timeout, Florida led by four points, but Lady Vols bounced back in round one after leading 3-0. Gators continued to hold Tennessee, leading 21-18 to force a timeout for UT. Lady Vols used a 4-1 scoreline during that timeout to end the set at 22-all and despite the extra point it took, Florida kept a 26-24 win to start the game.
- Four different Gators won three lives in the first set: Kelley, Essix, Markova, and Beason.
- Tennessee once again took an early lead in the second set, but the Gators fought back with a 3-0 victory to take a 4-3 lead. It was a goal back and forth in the middle of the set, but Florida took advantage of a 4-0 lead after McKissock’s serve to take a 19-15 lead and force Lady Vols to run out of time. Tennessee fought back to tie back frame 23-23, prompting Florida to call the second timeout of the set. During the break, Markova scored consecutive knockdowns to give Florida a 25-23 win.
- UF hit .444 in the second set, led by five kills from Markova and Victoria. Essix killed three more of his own, followed by two of Kelley’s.
- With a goal down by the Gators at 10-9, Tennessee combined 6-3 for a 16-12 advantage in the third inning. Florida came back in the second round with a 16-14 scoreline, but the Lady Vols once again extended their lead to four to force the Gators to timeout. Tennessee finished the game 9-2 to take the game to fourth place in Knoxville.
- Markova led with three kills in the third bracket, followed by two men from Stucky and Victoria.
- The fourth set saw the two teams draw early, but Tennessee took a three-man lead to lead 11-8. Florida withdrew in round one at 14-13, but Lady Vols took a 15-13 advantage in the media timeout. After the break, the Gators fought back with a 4-0 win to take a 17-16 lead. UF will not review the rest of the game, taking the 25-20 set to move to 11-3 of the year.
- Florida hit .371 in the final bracket, led by six kills from Markova. Victoria added five lives, while Beason posted four.
- Alexis Stucky has scored his third double of the year with 43 assists and 10 digs
- The Gator improves to 55-13 in all-time series, including a 51-8 record under Mary Wise’s lead
- Florida is currently 12-4 against Tennessee in four-set matches
- Gators improve to 26-5 against Tennessee in Knoxville
- UF improves to 4-1 in four-set matches in 2022 campaign
- Gators return to Exactech Arena for two-match series against LSU Tigers starting Saturday
- First serve on Saturday scheduled for 6 p.m. on SEC Network +
- Sunday’s match will start at 3pm, also on SEC Network +
Thoughts from Coach Wise
“At different points in the game, we had different people step up and we found a way.”