Florida Gators volleyball defeats UCF in four sets

Special report on the Florida Gators volleyball team:

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 4 Florida Gators closed out the Bubly Invitational with a 3-1 victory over the University of Central Florida.

Florida battled back to take the first set, 26-24, but then dropped the second, 25-17. With the match tied 1-1, the Gators took control of the third and fourth sets, winning them 25-23 and 25-17, respectively.
Thayer Hall had a great day both defensively and offensively, recording a career-high 19 digs to go along with 20 kills. Through the first five matches of the season, Hall has accumulated a team-best 87 kills. For her performance this weekend, Hall was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Holly Carlton was the only other Gator in double-figure kills, notching 10 on the night. That paired with her five blocks helped earn her a spot on the All-Tournament Team.

Rachael Kramer and Taelor Kellum both pitched in nine kills and Allie Monserez posted a season-best 37 assists.
Lauren Dooley made her first appearance on the court in a Gator uniform in the fourth set, where she recorded three blocks and a kill to clinch the victory for Florida.

Four Gators ended the match in double-figure digs Thayer Hall (19), Allie Gregory (17), Paige Hammons (15) and Allie Monserez (10).

The Gators are back in action on Friday, Sept. 7 in Flagstaff, Ariz. for the Lumberjack Invitational. Florida will play CSUN and host Northern Arizona on Friday, then finish out the invitational with Southern Illinois on Saturday.

All-Tournament Team:
Thayer Hall, Florida
Holly Carlton, Florida
Brooke Botkin, USC
Khalia Lanier, USC – MVP
Raquel Lazaro, USC
Kristina Fisher, UCF
Jasmine Bennett, Louisville

How it Happened

–        The Gators were in an early 9-5 hole against UCF in the first set, but slowly crawled out of the deficit to tie the set at 17-17 on a solo block by Holly Carlton. Taelor Kellum’s fifth kill of the set put Florida up 18-17, but then the teams would go on trading points until UCF went up 24-23. UCF had the service and what looked to be set point after the officials called a touch on Paige Hammons. Florida challenged the call and it was overturned, tying the set at 24-24. Kellum put the Gators up 25-24 and a spectacular defensive play by Thayer Hall led to a UCF attack error to clinch the set for Florida.

–        Florida could not seem to find a consistent rhythm in the second set, falling 25-17. Hall had seven kills in the frame and hit .462, but it wasn’t enough to give the Gators the boost they needed to win the game.

–        UF found itself down in the third set once again, this time in a 15-11 hole. After a 7-3 run, thanks in part to the serving of freshman Riley Fischer, the Gators tied the set at 18-18. A kill by Rachael Kramer gave Florida the lead at 19-18 – the first since 3-2. The teams traded points and were tied at 23-23, but Kellum registered back-to-back kills to give UF the set.

–        The Gators battled back from another deficit in the fourth set, but after tying the frame at 10, never trailed again. The squad closed the set on a 15-7 run, including the three blocks by Lauren Dooley – in her first collegiate action. With the 24-17 lead, Allie Monserez set Dooley for match point and she delivered.

–        Thayer Hall matched her jersey number in kills (20), making this the third match out of five she has recorded at least 20 kills. She also recorded a career-high 19 digs in the match.

–        Lauren Dooley saw the first action of her collegiate career during the fourth set of the match, coming up big time for the Gators. She recorded three block and registered the kill that won the match.

–        Haley Warner recorded a career-high five kills

–        Riley Fischer notched six digs, a career-best for the freshman

–        Four Gators were in double-figure digs – Thayer Hall (19), Allie Gregory (17), Paige Hammons (15) and Allie Monserez (10)

–        15 of the 17 Gators saw action in Sunday’s matchup

–        The Gators are now 2-1 in Exactech Arena this season

–        Florida moves to 19-0 against UCF in program history, including 7-1 under head coach Mary Wise

–        Florida moves to 5-0 in four-setters against the Knights

–        UF is now 9-0 in Gainesville against UCF
Thoughts from Coach Wise

–        “Going back, this is arguably the toughest five-match stretch to open a season that we have ever asked as a team. To do come out of it 3-2, with as young as we are, gives us a lot to grow on. We are a better team today than we were on Thursday before playing the last three matches. UCF – and they showed it Saturday night – is one of the best defensive teams in the country. They have an elite libero and they are going to be a tough out. I feel very fortunate that we were able to pick up enough points to win tonight.”
Players’ Corner
Paige Hammons
On hitting line:

–        “We talked a lot about hitting line during scouting and our setters did a great job pushing us out so we were able to hit line. Thayer Hall was great tonight and it was a great team effort and performance.”
On Lauren Dooley:

–        “Dooley came in during the spring and she was a little shy and unknown, but on the court, she would just stuff everyone. That is what Dooley does. Watching her do that tonight, I was so proud of her.”
Rachael Kramer
On the weekend:

–        “Really good weekend for our team – these are three fantastic opponents and to play them on the second weekend is awesome. Playing them before we get to the SEC matches helps our team so much and tells us what we need to work on. I am so excited to get back into the gym to work on all of the things that got exposed this weekend, but that we can definitely improve upon.”
Up Next

–        The Gators travel to Flagstaff, Ariz. to compete in the Lumberjack Invitational on Sept. 7-8

–        Florida faces CSUN on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET, then takes on host Northern Arizona at 9 p.m. ET

–        This will be the first meeting between Florida and both CSUN and Northern Arizona

–        UF closes out the Lumberjack Invitational with a matchup against Southern Illinois on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET

–        The Gators have faced the Salukis just once in program history, back on Sept. 7, 1985. Southern Illinois topped Florida 3-2
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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.