Florida freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan registered a career-best .846 hitting efficiency and junior outside hitter Gabby Mallette put down a season-tying 12 kills as the eighth ranked Gator volleyball squad blanked Arkansas 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-22) Sunday in front of the Florida faithful, solidifying the top spot in the SEC standings as the only team undefeated in conference play.
The first set saw the Gators post seven consecutive points against the Razorbacks and only one lead change. The second set was more back-and-forth, with 12 tie scores and four lead changes. The Gators would also post five consecutive points in the set.
The third and final set was nothing short of a hard-fought battle, as the Gators and Razorbacks would go back and forth, including nine tie scores and two lead changes. Florida would jump out to a 6-1 lead before squandering the advantage, falling to 11-12, before ultimately pulling out the set and match victory.
Sunday’s victory against the Razorbacks (11-9, 5-2 SEC) marked a conference-best nine straight wins for Florida (14-3, 8-0 SEC) and the Gators’ sixth sweep in league play this season. The Orange and Blue posted nine blocks, compared to Arkansas’s two, dug up 36 balls to the Razorback’s 28 and landed six service aces, while Arkansas had just two.
Alhassan and Mallette combined for 23 of Florida’s 44 kills, while sophomore right side Alex Holston added nine slams, three blocks, and seven digs in the sweep. Junior middle blocker Simone Antwi and Alhassan each posted four blocks to help aid the Gator defense. Junior setter Mackenzie Dagostino added 35 assists and two service aces
Gator head coach Mary Wise knew that the Razorbacks would be tough competition for her squad and credited a couple of players for stepping up.
“We played a team in Arkansas that was really on a roll and playing their best volleyball now that they’re healthy. We had enough really good performances, especially by Gabby (Mallette) and Rhamat (Alhassan), to counter a very talented Arkansas team that we’ll see later in the season.”
The Gators will be back in the O’Dome next weekend for a two-match home stand when Florida hosts Missouri Friday and Mississippi State Sunday. First serve between the Gators and Tigers is slated for 7 p.m., while Florida and MSU will tilt at 1:30 p.m. Sunday to wrap up the weekend. The Gators are 3-2 all-time against Mizzou, the defending SEC Champions, as Missouri took both meetings in 2013. UF swept the Bulldogs in Starkville October 5th and is now an undefeated 44-0 against MSU, 35-0 under head coach Mary Wise.
You can catch both matches on ESPN 850 WRUF.
For postgame comments from coach Wise, Mackenzie Dagostino, and Gabby Mallette, click below: