Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
TAMPA, Fla. – The No. 11 Florida volleyball team finished off the Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational on with a win on Saturday night, defeating host South Florida in five sets in the Yuengling Center.
With the win, the Gators have now started the season with a 2-0 record 28 times in program history. This is the fifth-straight year Florida begins with an unblemished record after the first weekend of play.
South Florida claimed the first set 25-22 before the Gators answered with the 25-18 victory in the second. The third set belonged to the Bulls, with USF winning 25-22, but Florida forced the deciding fifth set after cruising to the 25-16 victory in the fourth. The Gators went on to win the match with a 15-8 fifth set.
Kennedy Martin and Anna Dixon were named to the Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational All-Tournament Team.
For the second-straight night, Kennedy Martin led the offensive attack for Florida, finishing with a career-high 27 kills and a .449 hitting percentage. Sofia Victoria followed with nine kills, while Anna Dixon posted eight on the night with a .429 clip.
Sophomore setter Alexis Stucky dished out 46 assists on the night, leading the team to a .350 clip.
Defensively, Dixon was a stud at the net, coming up with a career-high 14 blocks in the five-setter. She was followed by Martin’s six, while Stucky added five of her own in the match.
The backcourt defense was evenly spread with Trinity Adams (8), Elli McKissock (8), Stucky (8), Emily Canaan (7) and Dixon (7) combining for 38 digs.
Florida was strong behind the service line, coming up with 11 aces on the night. Dixon posted a team-high three aces, followed by two apiece from Stucky, Martin and McKissock.
The Gators continue their road trip, heading west to take on No. 3 Stanford on Tuesday, Aug. 29. First serve is slated for 9 p.m. EST on the Pac-12 Network.
No. 11 Florida (2-0)
South Florida (0-2)
How It Happened
- The first set began with the two squads trading points, with neither team holding more than a two-point lead prior to the Bulls pulling ahead 10-7 after back-to-back service aces. Then, the Gators battled back with a 4-0 run behind the serves of Dixon to grab the 11-10 advantage. The momentum swung back in USF’s direction following its first timeout of the frame, with the Bulls pulling ahead 15-12 to force a Florida timeout. South Florida took its largest lead of the set to that point at 17-13, but the Gators chipped away to within two at the 18-16 mark. USF once again went ahead four following a 2-0 run, causing Florida to utilize its final timeout of the frame. Following that break, the Gators used a 4-1 run to pull within one at 21-20, but the Bulls went on to win 25-22.
- Florida hit .333 in the first set, led by three kills from Martin. Victoria, Dixon and Stucky each added two.
- South Florida took the early 8-4 lead in the second frame, but the Gators cut away at the deficit, using a 7-1 run to grab the 11-9 advantage. The Bulls came back to tie the set at 12-all, but the rest of the set was all Florida, as the Gators used an 8-1 run to go ahead 20-13 late. The Orange & Blue went on to tie the match at 1-1 after winning the second set 25-18.
- The Gators hit .276 in the second frame, led by seven kills from Martin.
- With the third set tied at 5-all, the Gators strung together a 9-4 run to force a USF timeout with Florida leading 14-9. UF held USF at a three-point distance or greater through the middle portion of the set, but South Florida cut Florida’s lead to two at the 19-17 mark after utilizing a 3-0 run. Following a Gator timeout, the Bulls came out and finished the set on an 8-3 run to take the 2-1 match lead.
- Martin posted a team-high five kills in the set, while Canaan and Adams both registered three digs.
- Set four was Florida’s from the jump, with the Gators pulling ahead 7-2 thanks in part to the play of McKissock behind the service line. The Bulls cut the lead to two at 9-7, but Florida used a 7-1 run to grab the 16-8 advantage and force the USF timeout. Out of the break, the Gators continued to build upon their lead, going ahead 11 at 23-12. South Florida got a few points back late, but Florida went on to force the deciding fifth set after the 25-16 victory.
- UF hit a stellar .500 in the fourth frame, with Martin (5) and Dixon (4) combining for nine of the 12 kills.
- The Gators came out blazing in the fifth set, taking the 8-2 lead to force the switch of sides. Florida continued its run on the opposite side of the net, taking the 10-3, causing USF to use its second and final timeout of the frame. Coming out of the timeout, South Florida cut Florida’s lead to six after a 4-0 run, but the Gators held on for the 15-8 win.
- Florida hit .556 in the final frame, with Martin registering seven kills to secure the victory
- Anna Dixon and Kennedy Martin were each named to the Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational All-Tournament Team
- Kennedy Martin set new career-bests in kills (27) and blocks (6.0) on the night
- Anna Dixon recorded a career-high 14.0 blocks, surpassing her previous best of 6.0
- The Gators are now 2-0 for the 28th time in program history, including the fifth-straight season
- Florida improves to 30-3 against the Bulls, including an 18-0 record under Mary Wise
- UF is now 2-1 in five-set matches against USF
- The Gators are 11-1 against the Bulls in Tampa
- The Gators continue their road trip, heading west to take on No. 3 Stanford on Tuesday, Aug. 29
- First serve is slated for 9 p.m. EST on the Pac-12 Network
- The match can also be heard on the airways of ESPN Gainesville 98.1 FM/850 AM