PHOTO CREDIT: Alex De La Osa/UAA Communications

Gators Volley Faces Gamecocks on the Road

Florida is back on the road after a pair of five-setters at home in the O’Connell Center.

The No. 11 Florida Gators (15-3, 6-0) head into Columbia, South Carolina for a Friday-night match with the South Carolina Gamecocks (14-2, 5-1).

Mary Wise’s squad will look to continue Florida’s success over South Carolina.

Scouting the Gamecocks

Meanwhile, Florida will face a team looking for its first win over the Gators since 2006.

First-year head coach Tom Mendoza’s squad enters the contest as one of the top teams in the conference. Their 5-1 SEC record is third-best in the conference.

The team’s 14 wins already outpaces their win total of 12 in 2017.

In addition, they rank in the top five against conference opponents in both hitting efficiency (fifth with .242) and opponent’s hitting (fourth with .193).

Although, they did surrender a .402 percentage at Missouri on Oct. 5. They are also being out-blocked and out-dug in their last five matches.

The Gamecocks went 9-0 in the month of September. Furthermore, they started conference play winning five of their first six matches, including four consecutive wins over the first four matches.

Here are some players to watch for South Carolina:

  • MB Mikayla Robinson – twenty-two total blocks and hitting .345 over her five most-recent matches
  • RS Mikayla Shields – leads the team in total points (212) and kills (180). Averaging 2.28 kills per set over the last five matches.
  • DS/Libero Aubrey Ezell – leads the conference with 46 service aces this season, 11 against conference opponents.

Kellum Killing It

Florida’s senior middle blocker Taelor Kellum showed out this past week. Because of her performance, she nabbed both SEC Player of the Week and SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

She recorded 17 blocks and 14 kills in Florida’s two matches last weekend, including a career-high 12 blocks against Georgia.

Appropriately, Kellum sits in the top 10 in the conference in hitting percentage and blocks.

Mary Wise said it was interesting to see her be recognized for her defense because of how well she’s played for the Gators offensively.

“She has a really good understanding of her game, how she can affect the game and helps us in the three rotations on the court,” Wise said.

Kellum on the honor:

She said her defense was something she wanted to work on going into Georgia. Kellum gave credit to her teammates for helping her improve her game.

Thayer Hall’s Homecoming

Florida’s outstanding freshman outside hitter will be making her return to the Palmetto State.

Before joining Florida, the Spartanburg native was the 2017-18 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year and 2017 USA Today All-USA Volleyball Player of the Year.

She is the team’s leader in kills at 219. Her first five matches were all double-digit kill performances for her, including three matches with 20.

Back Home on Sunday

Florida will return to the O’Connell Center for a rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Gators won 3-0 in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 30. Kellum led the way with 12 kills and Florida held the Tide to .137 hitting as a team.

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