Gators sweep second weekend opponent

The No. 13 Florida Gators swept Georgia (26-24, 25-15, 25-23) in the Bulldogs’ home arena on Sunday in Athens, Ga. to improve to 4-1 in SEC play and 11-3 overall for the season. Georgia drops to 2-4 in the Southeastern Conference and falls to 6-10 overall.

The Gators hit.164 better than the Bulldogs and earned 10 more kills and five more blocks as they swept their ninth opponent of the season. 

“We had some serve and pass issues,” Georgia head coach Lizzy Stemke said. “Against a team like Florida, you can’t have those issues.”

The Gators only had seven errors throughout the match and five players finished hitting above .400.

UF junior middle blocker Betsy Smith led the match hitting a .700 as she hammered seven kills and made four blocks. Senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel led the match-high for kills as she earned 14 hitting a .520 and had six blocks. Sophomore setter Chanel Brown led the Gators with 24 assists and senior setter and outside hitter Kelly Murphy narrowly missed a triple double as she contributed 20 assists, 13 kills on a .480 clip and added nine digs.

Florida junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs hit a .400 as she had seven kills and senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell added five kills, hitting on a .444 percentage to help the Gators to earn their second sweep of the weekend.

The first set was a consistently close set full of consecutive point scoring from both teams. The score was tied eight times and there was only one lead change throughout the entire set. Georgia started off leading 4-1 over the Gators until Florida came back to tie the score. Florida was able to gain the lead after going on a 5-0 to be up 17-13. It was then the Bulldogs’ turn to going on a streak as they went on a 6-3 run to reach within one point of the Gators, 21-20. The Bulldogs were able to hold the Gators off for two consecutive set points with kills for junior right side hitter Brianna Bahr, but the Florida closed out the set 26-24.

The second set was a different story as the Gators jumped out to a 5-1 lead and never let down after that. Florida then went on a 5-0 run to lead 16-7 and closed the set 25-15 after going on 6-3 run.

The third set was similar to the first one as the Gators never gained more of a three-point lead and there were only two lead changes throughout the set. The Gators only lead by one before the set got tied up at 11.Georgia then went up 12-11 on the Gators, but Florida chipped away at points to gain another one point lead at 22-21. As the Gators pulled away, 24-21, Georgia once again held off the Gators’ for two consecutive sets with kills from sophomore outside hitter Brittany Northcutt. However, Florida was able to end the set and match with a 25-23 win over the Bulldogs.

Georgia senior setter Kathleen Gates led the match with 36 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Kathleen Luft had 10 kills on a career high best .643 hitting percentage. Brittany Northcutt led the Bulldogs in kills as she earned 13 and Briana Bahr added 11.

The Gators come back home next weekend for another Southeastern Conference weekend as they take on the Arkansas razorbacks on Friday and the LSU Tigers on Sunday. Opening serve is set for 7:00 p.m. on. On Sunday, the match will start at 1:30 p.m. and will be featured on Sun Sports.

Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at