Florida volleyball swept the UCF Knights on Friday night in Exactech Arena to advance to the Regional Semifinal of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.
In the round of 32, the Gators started off shaky before building offensive momentum they would carry the rest of the match.
Three Gators recorded hitting percentages above .500. Middle blocker Rachel Kramer (.667), right side hitter Holly Carlton (.533) and middle blocker Lauren Dooley (.500) led the Florida offense.
Additionally, Paige Hammons lead all Florida hitters with 16 kills.
Florida punches its ticket to the regionals!
(10) @GatorsVB sweeps in-state foe UCF (25-21, 25-18, 25-16) to become the first team in the tournament to advance to regional play next weekend.#NCAAVB pic.twitter.com/06TnaHJKil
— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 7, 2019
Gators bounce from rocky start
In the opening set, the Gators jumped out to an early 4-0 lead before UCF quickly came charging back. The Knights capitalized off of multiple service errors early in the first set. After the set 6-6, the Knights and the Gators would go point for point until UCF slowly took the lead.
With UCF up 20-17, Florida head coach Mary Wise called a timeout.
After the timeout, a kill from Holly Carlton followed by back-to-back kills from Paige Hammons would tie the match at 20-20.
The Florida offense continued to apply pressure, securing the first set 25-21.
Containing the UCF attack
Once Florida found their groove, the Gators played some of their best offensive and defensive volleyball.
In the second set, the Gators held the Knights to a hitting percentage of .132. In addition, the Gators defense recorded three blocks and 16 digs. Florida managed to contain the explosiveness of UCF outside hitters McKenna Melville and Kristina Fisher. Melville did record nine kills and 16 digs on the night.
Florida took the second set 25-18.
In the third set, Florida continued contain the UCF offense. The Florida back court continued to come up big for the Gators, recording 23 digs. Kramer and Hammons each recorded seven kills in the third set pushing the Gators to a 25-17 victory.
Florida defensive specialists
A change in the Gators starting line-up included the addition of defensive specialist Riley Fischer as the Gators were without leading scorer, outside hitter Thayer Hall, for the second consecutive match.
Florida defensive specialists Paula Cerame, Chanelle Hargreaves, Allie Gregory and Fischer came up big for the Gators. Gregory lead the team with 17 digs against the Knights.
Hammons commented on the way the Gators defense stepped up against UCF.
Florida has yet to hear who their opponent will be in the Regional Semifinal. After the conclusion of tournament play on Saturday, Florida’s next opponent will be set.