Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
OMAHA, Neb. – The eighth-seeded Florida volleyball team took down the Morehead State Eagles in straight-sets in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon in the Chi Health Center Convention Center.
The Gators improve to 20-3 on the year and move on to the program’s 27th Regional Semifinal, while Morehead State’s season comes to a close at 17-2 overall.
Florida took the first set by a commanding margin, winning 25-14 and followed with a 25-19 victory in the second. The Gators secured the match with a 25-19 win in the final frame.
The Gators were led offensively by Thayer Hall, who posted 10 kills on the evening. Holly Carlton and Lauren Forte pitched in nine kills apiece, while T’ara Ceasar added eight of her own.
Both Carlton (9-2-15, .467) and Forte (9-2-14, .500) hit over .450 on the night.
Marlie Monserez anchored Florida’s offense, dishing out 32 assists in the three-set match while leading UF to a .303 clip.
The Gators held Morehead State to just a .073 clip on the evening, while adding 8.0 blocks at the net. Lauren Dooley and Forte each posted a team-high four blocks, while Monserez and Carlton tallied three apiece in the win.
Elli McKissock registered 12 digs in the three-setter, while Hall added 11 of her own for her third double-double of the season. Ceasar followed with eight digs of her own in the victory.
As a squad, the Gators recorded eight service aces, led by a team-best three from Holly Carlton. Thayer Hall and Paige Hammons each posted two service aces of their own in the win.
The Gators face the nine-seed Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday in the Regional Semifinal, with a time to be determined after all of the second round matches are completed.
8-Seed Florida (20-3, 19-3 SEC)
Morehead State (17-2, 15-1 OVC)
How It Happened
* The Gators were able to create a bit of distance from the Eagles early in the first set, but a 4-0 run brought Morehead State to within one point at 10-9. From that point on, UF went on a 5-1 run to take the 15-10 lead into the media timeout. Out of the break, the Gators continued to roll, forcing a quick timeout from the Eagles with Florida up 17-11. UF came storming out of the break, closing the frame on an 8-3 run to secure the victory.
* The Gators hit .375 in the first set, led by four kills from Thayer Hall. Holly Carlton, T’ara Ceasar, Lauren Dooley and Lauren Forte each added two kills piece in the frame.
* The second set was one of runs, with Florida coming right out of the gate to take the 10-4 lead early to force a timeout by the Eagles. Morehead State strung together a run of its own out of the timeout, going on a 4-0 stretch to force a Florida timeout. Out of that break, the Gators went on an 8-2 run to take the commanding 18-10 lead late in the frame. The Eagles would not back down, pulling to within four at 22-18, but the Gators were able to close out the set on a 3-1 run to go up 2-0 in the match.
* Carlton led the way in the second set for Florida, recording four kills, while Hall and Forte each notched three apiece. As a team, the Gators hit .324 in the frame and recorded three blocks.
* Florida took the early lead once again in the final set, pulling ahead of the Eagles 10-6. Morehead State was not going down without a fight, taking the 15-14 lead midway through the third. The Gators were able to create some distance with a 5-0 run and the squad was able to stay ahead to take the 25-19 victory and clinch the match.
* In the final set, Florida held Morehead State to a .029 clip and just seven kills. Offensively, Ceasar and Forte each posted four kills in the frame, while Carlton and Hall each added three.
* Thayer Hall recorded her third double-double of the season, recording 10 kills and 11 digs
* The Gators advance to the program’s 27th Regional Semifinal
* Florida improves to 27-4 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
* The Gators move to 1-0 in program history against Morehead State
* UF moves to 76-30 (.717) in NCAA Tournament history, including a 75-29 record under Mary Wise (.721)
* As a 10-seed or better, Florida is now 50-16 (.758) in program history
* UF’s 76 NCAA Tournament wins are the eighth-most all-time
* The Gators improve to 15-1 in three-set matches this season
* Florida moves to 5-1 in matches played on Thursday
* With her 32 assists on the afternoon, Marlie Monserez now has 2,427, moving her into 11th place in program history
* Paige Hammons recorded two service aces in the match, bringing her to 121 in her career, which places her tied for 13th in program history
Thoughts from Coach Wise
* “We got to see first-hand why Morehead had such a great year. They are a well-coached team with both the arms and back row defense to make it tough to score. Grateful to be here and even more grateful to still be playing.”
* The Gators advance to the program’s 27th Regional Semifinal, facing the ninth-seed Ohio State on Sunday
* Times will be determined after all of the second round matches have been completed
* The Gators are 2-0 against the Buckeyes in the NCAA Tournament, with both matches coming under Mary Wise
* Overall, Florida is 2-1 against Ohio State with all three matches under Mary Wise’s tenure