No. 4 Gators Volleyball Drops Home Opener

A Gator home crowd of 4,431 was sent home without the satisfaction of a home-opening win.

The No. 4 Gator Volleyball team fell to 1-2 on the season after a 3-1 loss to the No. 7 Southern California Trojans in their first game of the Bubly Invitational.

Struggles on the Attack and Slow Starts

The Gators hit a season-low .152 in the rematch of last year’s thrilling quarterfinal. They combined for 46 kills on the night with 145 total attempts with 24 errors.

North Carolina transfer Holly Carlton led the way for the Gators with 16 kills and a .303 hitting percentage.

“She hit the ball well,” Head Coach Mary Wise said. “She did some really nice things.”

Freshman outside hitter Thayer Hall had the second-most kills on the team, but also hit nine errors and registered a hitting percentage of only .060.

“If we clean up our side we’ll have way better volleyball,” Hall said.

The Gators hit no better than .100 for three of the match’s four sets:

  • Set 1: .100
  • Set 2: .382
  • Set 3: .088
  • Set 4: .054

In both the first and third sets, the Gators found themselves down 10-2 to USC.

“I think you saw tonight that we’re struggling to start strong,” Carlton said. “Finding where we want to start and our mentality of how we’re going to start each set is really going to help us in the future.”

A Terrible Twosome

The Trojans boasted a pair of outside hitters that Wise described as “two All-American lefts.”

Khalia Lanier and Brooke Botkin combined for 34 of USC’s 52 kills on the night. The two combined for a .292 hitting percentage.

Wise said the difference is when USC ended up out of its system the talent of Lanier and Botkin gave them the opportunity to take big rips from the out at the net.

“They don’t have to be in-system to score, we do,” Wise said.

Botkin led the way with 20 kills, but Wise pointed to the fact that she also provided on defense with 15 digs.

“You got two All-American lefts you have a chance to win it all,” Wise said. “This is a national championship team.”

Showing Off Depth

Florida was able to showcase just how far it’s bench could go against USC.

The Gators played 15 total players Friday night compared to the Trojans’ nine.

“Tonight we had a lot of people with great nights,” Holly Carlton said. “I think we’re just making the other teams have a hard time defending so many great hitters.”

One of those hitters was sophomore Macy Phillips who finished the game with a team-leading three service aces.

Wise said Phillips brings a “big gun” and a key for her is staying low-error. She said Phillips improved in cleaning up the errors since 2017.

What’s Next

Florida will look to rebound against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday at 5 p.m.

This is the seventh meeting between the two schools. Florida has yet to drop a match and the last time they met Florida swept Louisville 3-0 in 2005.

That game can be seen on SEC Network Plus starting at 5 p.m.

Video Credit: Kate Venezio

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