Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The 17th-ranked Florida volleyball team (7-4, 1-0 SEC) opened its SEC slate with a five-set victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs (9-4, 0-1 SEC) in Exactech Arena on Thursday night.
The Gators took the first set 25-17 and followed that with a decisive 25-11 win in the second. The Bulldogs answered with a 25-16 victory in the third and forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-18 win in the fourth. Florida clinched the match victory with a tightly contested 15-13 win in the final set to move to 1-0 in the SEC.
Florida’s offense was led by a 17-kill performance from T’ara Ceasar, while Sofia Victoria pitched in a 14-kill effort in the five-setter. Thayer Hall notched 10 kills of her own, while Lauren Dooley added eight with a .538 clip.
Marlie Monserez posted 51 assists in the match and also added nine digs and three blocks on the night.
At the net, Florida recorded 12.0 blocks, led by a six-block effort from Gabrielle Essix – a career-high for the freshman. Dooley and Ceasar each added four blocks in the victory as well.
Florida’s backcourt was led by a team-high 31 digs from Elli McKissock – a career-high for the sophomore libero. Ceasar added 13 digs of her own for her fifth double-double of the year and Victoria added nine on the night.
UF notched seven service aces behind the line, led by two apiece from Monserez, McKissock and Victoria.
The Gators are right back in action on Friday night to close out the series with the Bulldogs. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network with Sam Gore and Jennifer Hoffman on the call. The match can also be heard on the airways of ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM.
No. 17 Florida (7-4, 1-0 SEC)
Mississippi State (9-4, 0-1 SEC)
How it Happened
- The two teams kept it close to start the first set, but the Gators were able to create some distance, taking the 11-7 lead. The Bulldogs pulled back to within two at 12-10, but Florida put together a 7-3 run behind four Victoria kills to force a Mississippi State timeout at the 19-13 mark. From that point on, it was all Gators, closing out with the 25-17 victory.
- Florida hit .406 in the first, notching 17 kills as a team. Victoria led the way with seven kills in the frame, followed by four from Dooley.
- Once again, the start of the set was tight, with the second frame tied 8-8 early. Florida got the momentum rolling with a 9-2 run behind the serves of Monserez, McKissock and Victoria, forcing the Bulldogs to use both of their timeouts by the 17-10 mark. UF closed out the second set with a 8-1 run to go up 2-0 in the match.
- Florida hit .478 in the frame, while holding Mississippi State to a -.059 clip. Ceasar posted six kills in the frame, while Monserez dished out 11 assists. As a team, Florida notched six blocks in set, led by three apiece from Dooley and Essix.
- The Bulldogs jumped out to the early 6-2 lead in the third set and continued to control the tempo, taking the 13-7 lead around the midway point. The Gators fought back to within one at 15-14, but the Bulldogs closed out the frame on a 10-2 run to force a fourth set.
- Dooley led the way with three kills in the set, followed by two apiece from Ceasar, Hall and Victoria.
- After a 5-5 tie in the fourth set, Mississippi State strung together a 9-2 run to take the 14-7 lead midway through. The Gators were able to cut their deficit to just three at 21-18, but Mississippi State closed out the set on a 4-0 run to force a fifth.
- Ceasar led the way with four kills, while Essix posted a team-high two blocks in the frame.
- Florida jumped out to the early 5-1 lead in the deciding fifth set, forcing a Mississippi State timeout. The Gators continued to extend their lead, going up six points at 11-5 before the Bulldogs cut the deficit to just one at 14-13. Victoria ended the frame and the match with a kill from Monserez to move Florida to 1-0 in the SEC.
- Merritt Beason and Hall led the way in the fifth set with three kills apiece, while Ceasar and Victoria each pitched in two to secure the victory.
- Essix recorded a career-high six blocks in the match
- McKissock posted a career-high 31 digs in the five -setter
- The last time a Gator recorded at least 30 digs in a match was Sept. 23, 2016, when Caroline Knop recorded 31 at Ole Miss
- Ceasar recorded her fifth double-double of the year, finishing with 17 kills and 13 digs
- Ceasar posted her ninth-straight match with double-digit kills
- Victoria posted her fourth-straight match with double-digit kills
- The Gators move to 53-0 in the all-time series against Mississippi State, including a 44-0 record under Mary Wise
- Florida is now 1-0 in five-set matches against the Bulldogs
- UF improves to 25-0 against Mississippi State in Gainesville, Fla.
- The Gators are now 1-0 in five-set matches during the 2021 campaign
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- “This is the best Mississippi State team in some time and they played very well tonight. It was a great SEC battle.”
- The Gators return to action on Friday night to close out the series with the Mississippi State Bulldogs
- First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on the SEC Network with Sam Gore and Jennifer Hoffman on the call
- The match can also be heard on the airways of ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM
Series Information – No. 17 Florida vs. Mississippi State
Bulldogs | 2021 season synopsis: 9-4
- This is the 54th meeting between the Gators and the Bulldogs
- Florida leads the series 53-0 (44-0 under Mary Wise)
- 3-set: 48-0 | 4-set: 4-0 | 5-set: 1-0
- Home: 25-0 | Away: 26-0 | Neutral: 2-0
- Last Time Out: Sept. 23, 2021 | Gainesville, Fla. | W, 3-2 (25-17, 25-11, 16-25, 18-25, 15-13)
TICKET INFO | Gator Ticket Office Online | Call: 352-375-4683 x6800 (Open M-F, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)
Season Ticket Prices:
- Reserved (Sections 09, 11, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29) – $75 [ages 13 & up]
- Kids Reserved (Sections 09, 11, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29) – $35 [ages 12 & under]
- General Admission (All other lower bowl areas) – $50 [ages 13 and up]
- Kids General Admission (All other lower bowl areas) – $25 [ages 12 & under]
- Courtside Season Pass (subject to availability) – $150 [all ages]
- Loge Seating (subject to availability) [in front of the Sideline Club] – $100 [all ages]
Single-Match Ticket Prices:
- Reserved (Sections 09, 11, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29) – $7 [ages 13 & up]
- Kids Reserved (Sections 09, 11, 13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29) – $3 [ages 12 & under]
- General Admission (All other lower bowl areas) – $5 [ages 13 and up]
- Kids General Admission (All other lower bowl areas) – $2 [ages 12 & under]