Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 4 Gators (19-1, 11-1 SEC) moved themselves back into a tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference standings with a sweep of No. 6 Kentucky (19-3, 10-1)-which was 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 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 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.
* Florida hit above .325 for the fifth time this season
* In the last four matches (13 sets), Shainah Joseph has hit .481 with 44 kills and seven errors on 77 total attempts
* Joseph has six career matches with 10-plus kills, and Wednesday was her fifth of the season
* Joseph has 11 career matches with 10-plus points, and Wednesday was her seventh
* Carli Snyder’s 15 kills tied the second-highest total of her career for a three-set match
* Florida improved its all-time record against Kentucky to 51-13, and to 49-6 under head coach Mary Wise
Florida travels to Tennessee for a Sunday afternoon match. First serve in Knoxville is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET. SEC Network + will provide streaming, while ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM / 850 AM will have the radio broadcast.