Written by: Shauni Lynch
The No. 8 Florida Gators defeated Arkansas Razorbacks (11-9, 5-2 SEC) after a three game sweep Sunday, Oct. 19 at the O’Connell Center. With this victory against Arkansas, and a Kentucky loss to LSU, the Florida Gators have officially earned the top spot in the SEC rankings, as they remain the only undefeated team in conference play.
The Gators took off to a slow but steady start in the first set, pulling ahead and winning the set 25-16 with two service aces from senior Taylor Unroe. The second set featured a strong eight points from junior outside hitter Gabby Mallette and another 10 from freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan with a total score of 25-20. Florida started off resilient in the third set of the sweep, scoring unanswered points, prompting the crowd to chant “six times, no score!” The Razorbacks, however, quickly answered back and challenged the Gators up until the last three points, giving the Gators a 25-23 set win, and a clean sweep.
Mallette and Alhassan led the Gators with a combined 23 of Florida’s 44 kills and 27 of the 59 points scored. Alhassan exploded on the court with a career-best .846 hitting efficiency and pushed Florida forward with her 11 kills and 14 points. Mallette tied the season record of 12 kills, six of which were in the second set, and put 14 points on the scoreboard.
The Gators couldn’t hold Arkansas below a .197 hitting efficiency but they did limit the Razorbacks to only two blocks, compared to Florida’s nine. The Gators now stand 36-2 all-time against the Razorbacks and an undefeated 16-0 at home.
This marks the ninth straight win for the Gators and extends the longest winning streak of the season as Florida improves to 14-8, 8-0 SEC. As the Gators head into their next week, they will host Missouri on Friday, Oct. 24 at 7:00pm and Mississippi State Sunday, October 26 at 1:30pm in the O’Dome.