Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The sixth-ranked Florida volleyball team started the 2021 campaign in the win column after sweeping San Francisco in the opening game of the Hornet Invitational.
Florida took the first set of the 2021 campaign handily, grabbing the 25-10 victory. The Gators kept it rolling in the second set, claiming the 25-12 victory before closing out the match with a 25-12 win in the final frame.
With this victory, Florida has now won 29 season openers, including five-straight.
The Gators tallied 35 kills in the sweep, led by nine from T’ara Ceasar. In her Gator debut, Merritt Beason posted eight kills, while Thayer Hall, Marlie Monserez and Sofia Victoria each recorded four apiece in the match.
In her collegiate debut, Gabrielle Essix added three kills and a block.
Six players hit over .400 in the match: Beason (8-0-12, .667), Ceasar (9-3-15, .400), Lauren Forte (1-0-2, .500), Hall (4-0-6, .667), Monserez (4-0-5, .800) and Nnedi Okammor (2-0-2, 1.000).
Monserez captained Florida’s offense to a .491 clip on the evening and dished out 25 assists in the three-setter.
The Gators held the Dons to a -.041 clip in the match, the lowest clip for an opponent since Sept. 27, 2018 against Auburn (-.041). Florida posted six blocks at the net, led by two apiece from Okammor and Beason.
Monserez paced the backcourt defense with a team-high eight digs, followed by five apiece from libero Elli McKissock and Hall. Ceasar and Beason both notched four digs of their own on the night.
The Gators are back in action Saturday, taking on UC Davis and Sacramento State to close out the Hornet Invitational. Florida will face the Aggies at 1 p.m. ET, before taking on the host Hornets at 10 p.m.
No. 6 Florida (1-0)
San Francisco (0-1)
How It Happened
- The Gators absolutely dominated the first set, jumping out to the early 7-0 lead behind the serves of Hall. Florida kept the Dons at bay, taking an 11-point lead at the 18-7 mark behind a stellar .667 hitting percentage through the first third. The Gators continued to grow their lead, closing out the frame on a 7-3 run to claim the first set of the 2021 campaign.
- Florida hit an astounding .714 in the first set, led by five kills from Ceasar. Beason added four in her first collegiate set, followed by from three Hall. The Gators held San Francisco to a -.045 clip and just five kills in the frame.
- With the set tied 1-1, the Gators exploded on a 9-3 run to take the six-point lead at 10-4. Florida held control the rest of the frame, taking an 11-point lead at 21-11 behind a service run from McKissock. UF closed the second set with a 4-1 run to go up 2-0 in the match.
- The Gators hit .375 in the second frame, while holding the Dons to -.037 clip. Ceasar once again led the offense in the second set, recording two kills, while six Gators each recorded one kill apiece.
- UF never trailed in the first two sets and that streak was kept alive in the third, with the Gators jumping out to a 12-4 lead behind the service runs of Victoria and Ceasar. San Francisco would not get closer than nine points the rest of the way, with Florida closing out the set, 25-12.
- The Gators closed out the match with .350 hitting percentage, all while holding the Dons to a -.042 clip. Beason posted a team-best three kills in the frame, while Essix, Ceasar and Victoria each recorded two.
- Florida held San Francisco to a -.041 clip in the match – the last time the Gators held an opponent to a negative hitting percentage was 9/27/18 against Auburn (-.041)
- The Gators hit .491 in the match – the last time Florida hit between .400-.499 was 1/29/21 against Ole Miss (.431)
- Merritt Beason earned the start on the right side in her first collegiate match, posting eight kills, four digs, two blocks and one service ace
- Gabrielle Essix posted three kills and a block in her collegiate debut
- Elli McKissock recorded a career-high three service aces in the match, besting her previous mark of two (four times)
- Prior to the match, Sofia Victoria had not recorded a service ace in her career, but against San Francisco she notched three
- With the win, Wise is now just one win away from her 900th at the University of Florida
- She will be just the second female coach in Division I history to reach 900 wins at a single school
- Wise currently sits at 980 wins in her career overall
- The Gators have now won 29 season openers in program history
- This is the fifth consecutive season opener UF has won
- Florida moves to 2-0 against the Dons, both wins coming under Wise
- With her 25 assists today, Marlie Monserez inched closer to breaking into UF’s Top-10. She currently sits at 2,533 career assists, just 138 shy of claiming the No. 10 spot
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- “In the first match of the year, our veterans played like veterans and our new players played beyond their age. It was a good start to the season.”
- The Gators are right back in action on Saturday with a two-match slate
- Florida takes on UC Davis at 1 p.m. ET before facing off against the tournament host Sacramento State at 10 p.m. ET
- Both matches will be streamed on ESPN+
Series Information – No. 6 Florida vs. UC Davis
Aggies | 2020-21 season synopsis: Did not compete in the 2020-21 campaign
- This is the first meeting between the Gators and the Aggies
Series Information – No. 6 Florida at Sacramento State
Hornets | 2020-21 season synopsis: 10-7 overall, 10-6 Big Sky
- This is the first meeting between the Gators and the Hornets
- Fans are allowed to attend the matches, but must wear a face covering per Sacramento County health order
- Ticket prices – One-day passes:
- Adult: $12
- Youth (ages 3-17): $6
- Senior (ages 65+): $6