Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The fifth-ranked Florida Gators opened their home season with a victory over No. 10 Minnesota, defeating the Golden Gophers in four sets.
Florida took the first set 25-20, then followed with another tough-fought 25-19 victory in the second set. Minnesota claimed the third set 25-22, but the Gators stormed back take the fourth set 25-23 and secure the win.
Four Gators hit double-digit kills in the match, with T’ara Ceasar leading the way with a season-high 19 kills. Lauren Forte and Merritt Beason each recorded 16 kills on the afternoon, while Thayer Hall added 11.
The 16 kills for Beason were a career-high, while Forte’s 16 were a Florida-career-high.
Marlie Monserez captained Florida’s offense to a .306 clip on the afternoon, while dishing out a season-high 56 assists.
As a team, Florida held Minnesota to a .223 clip and posted 6.0 blocks at the net. Lauren Dooley notched a team-best four blocks, while Hall added three on afternoon.
Four Gators posted double-digit digs on the night as well, with Elli McKissock recording a team-high 19. Monserez posted 14 for her second double-double of the year, while Ceasar and Hall each notched their first double-doubles of the season with 14 and 10 kills, respectively.
Florida recorded eight service aces in the four-setter, led by four from McKissock – tying her career-best mark. Hall added three, while Ceasar pitched in one in the win.
The Gators are back in action on Friday, Sept. 10 when the ninth-ranked Baylor Bears comes to Exactech Arena for a two-match series. First serve for Friday’s match is slated for 8 p.m. on the SEC Network, while Saturday’s match will begin at 7 p.m. on SEC Network +.
No. 5 Florida (3-1)
No. 10 Minnesota (1-2)
How It Happened
- The first set belonged to the Gators from the jump after Florida got out to a 7-1 lead behind the serves of McKissock. The Golden Gophers pulled to within four at 8-4, but the Gators were once again able to create some distance, taking the 19-14 lead late in the frame. Minnesota cut Florida’s lead to just three at 22-19, but Florida closed the set out on a 3-1 run to take the match lead.
- UF hit .385 in the first frame, while holding Minnesota to a .237 clip. Ceasar and Forte each recorded a team-high six kills in the set.
- Florida once again jumped out to the early lead, this time taking a 6-1 advantage behind the serves of Hall. The Golden Gophers remained in striking distance, pulling to within two at 12-10, forcing a Florida timeout, but of the break, the Gators exploded on a 4-0 run to take thecommanding six-point lead at 16-10. Minnesota strung together a run of its own, pulling to within three at 16-13, but Florida swung the momentum back in its direction to take another six-point lead at 23-17. The Gators closed out the frame on kills from Monserez and Hall to go up 2-0 in the match.
- The Gators hit .333 in the second frame and kept the Golden Gophers to just nine kills and a .115 clip. Forte led the way offensively, registering seven kills in the set.
- The third set was a back-and-forth battle from the start, with neither holding more than a two-point lead until Florida jumped ahead 7-4. The Golden Gophers tied it at 7-7 after a 3-0 run, then the two squads traded points until Minnesota took the 15-14 lead into the media timeout. Out of the break, the Golden Gophers continued to roll, taking the three-point lead at 17-14. Florida tied the set up once again at 21-21 behind a McKissock service ace, but Minnesota closed out the frame with a 4-1 run to force a fourth set.
- UF was led by five kills apiece from Beason and Hall in the third frame, while Ceasar pitched in four of her own.
- The Gators jumped out to the early 7-1 lead in the fourth set, but the Golden Gophers hung around, eventually tying the frame at 13-apiece. The two teams were locked in a dead-heat battle from that point on, but with the Gators down one at 23-22, the squad went on a 3-0 run to secure the match victory.
- Florida held the Golden Gophers to a .182 clip in the fourth frame and offensively, Florida was led by Ceasar who posted seven kills in the set.
- The last time four Gators posted double-digit digs was in the Regional Final against Wisconsin on April 19, 2021
- Marlie Monserez posted her second double-double of the season, finishing with 56 assists and 14 digs
- T’ara Ceasar recorded her first double-double of the year, recording 19 kills and 14 digs
- Thayer Hall recorded her first double-double of the season, finishing with 11 kills and 10 digs
- Merritt Beason registered a career-high 16 kills on the afternoon
- Lauren Forte recorded a Florida-career-high with 16 kills on the night
- The Gators improve to 2-5 against the Golden Gophers
- Florida is now 1-2 against Minnesota in four-set matches
- The Gators improve to 2-2 against the Golden Gophers in Gainesville, Fla.
- UF is now 1-1 in four-set matches during the 2021 campaign
- Mary Wise now sits at 983 career victories, on pace to hit 1,000 during the season
- With her 56 assists in the match, Marlie Monserez put herself into the Top-10 in program history in career assists with 2,691, surpassing Kelly Murphy (2,671)
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- “Against one of the all-time best performances we’ve ever witnessed in the O’Dome, we had to compete so hard to be able to match the play of Stephanie Samedy.”
- Florida continues its home stretch with a two-series matchup against the ninth-ranked Baylor Bears on Sept. 10 and 11
- Friday’s first serve is slated for 8 p.m. on the SEC Network
- Saturday’s match is set to begin at 7 p.m. on SEC Network +
Series Information – No. 5 Florida vs. No. 9 Baylor
Bears | 2021 season synopsis: 1-3
- This is the third meeting between the Gators and the Bears
- Florida leads 2-0 (1-0 under Mary Wise)
- 3-set: 2-0 | 4-set: 0-0 | 5-set: 0-0
- Home: 1-0 | Away: 0-0 | Neutral: 1-0
- Last Time Out: Sept. 13, 1991 | Fullerton, Calif. | W, 3-0 (15-11, 15-6, 15-4)