The Florida Gators volleyball team delivered the first loss of the season to Florida State on Tuesday night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center with a three-game sweep of 25-21, 25-22, 25-22.
The No. 9 Gators (3-0) held the No. 25 Seminoles (3-1) to a hitting percentage of .137 while they attacked the boards with a hitting percentage of .238.
“The score does not show how close this game really was,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “It was pretty high level volleyball. No doubt we will have to see Florida State again.”
The Gators held the lead for almost the entirety of the first set jumping to a 1-0 set advantage over the ‘Noles. The Gators overcame many deficits in the second and third sets including rebounding back from being down 9-1 early on in the second set and 13-6 the third. They came back both times to defeat the Seminoles 25-22 in both sets to claim their victory win.
The seniors can take the credit for helping the Gators overcome early deficits in their last two sets, combining for a total of 33 kills. Kelly Murphy led the way with a triple double of 12 kills, 17 assists, and 10 digs while Cassandra Anderson added 8 kills. Stephanie Ferrell and Tangerine Wiggs added 7 apiece while Kristy Jaeckel contributed 6 more.
“Playing FSU is always exciting,” Jaeckel said. “They’re an awesome team and always play hard when they play us. We knew we had to put forth our best effort.”
Other huge contributions to the Gators’ success over the Seminoles were Chanel Brown’s 21 assists and freshman Taylor Unroe’s 15 digs that kept the momentum going in the defense flow.
The enormous crowd of Gators fans gathered in the O’Connell Center supporting the team also contributed to the team’s success, keeping their energy level and spirits up when they needed it the most.
“Our students have done a really good job of showing up,” Murphy said. “We never have had fans like this especially in the beginning of the season. When we were down and coming back, it was really the crowd that was pushing us and it really gave us that little bit of extra energy that you need.”
Though they came out on top tonight, Wise is focusing on how the Gators can continue to grow more throughout the season.
“Our glaring concern right now is the fact that we didn’t block the ball,” Wise said. “Teams that win championships and win big matches, they do it with blocking. It was a glaring weakness tonight and it will be a major focus in practice.”
Jaeckel hinted to the same sentiment as a whole.
“Tonight was a good learning experience for us,” Jaeckel said. “It definitely shows us where we are. They are such a good team that this exposes what we need to work on and focus on. We had our moments where we were playing great and we had our moments where we playing not so good. We are just really trying to work on smoothing out our plays so we are consistent in the future. “