Mary Wise
Gators Volleyball player Alexa Stucky Image via

Florida Volleyball Stuns Wisconsin in Front of Record-Breaking Crowd

The Florida volleyball team upset number four Wisconsin in five sets in front of a record-breaking crowd Friday night in Madison.

The Gators jumped to a quick two-set lead over the Badgers to put themselves in prime position to take the match. Wisconsin didn’t go away however.  They stormed back in sets three and four to keep their hopes alive on a historic night.

Attendance Record Shattered

The Badgers typically play in Wisconsin Field House which seats 7500. However, the Friday night volleyball match was played in the Kohl Center, which had not hosted a volleyball match since the 1998 NCAA Championship match.

Wisconsin was eager to break the NCAA regular season attendance record which was set on September 7, 2022 at 15,797. Nebraska defeated Creighton 3-2 at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska when this record was set.

The Kohl Center held 16,838 fans Friday night, shattering the previously set record by more than 1000.

Standout Performances

Sophomore right side Merritt Beason led the all-around effort for the Gators tallying a career-high 21 kills, eight digs, three aces and two assists. Beason wouldn’t have been able to execute 21 kills without the work of freshman setter Alexis Stucky. Stucky dished out 45 assists and posted five blocks in the winning effort.

Sophomore middle blocker Gabbi Essix and senior outside hitter Marina Markova contributed 10 and eight kills, respectively.

Defensively, Elli McKissock tallied 18 digs, while Trinity Adams posted 10 digs.

Delivering Under Pressure

Markova set the tone early for the Gators by delivering two quick kills at the start of the match. Essix also made her name known with two early kills of her own. Florida capitalized on Wisconsin’s service errors and attack errors to secure a 25-21 set one victory.

In set two, the Gators jumped to a 12-5 lead, largely thanks to a four-point serving run by Beason. The Badgers were never able to recover, allowing the Gators to run away with a 25-18 win in set two.

Emily Canaan‘s seven-point serving streak early in set three set the tone for what looked to be a Gator sweep. However, the Badgers rallied to close the third set on a 9-4 run. Wisconsin took set three 28-26.

The Badgers completely flipped the script in set four. Wisconsin jumped to a 15-6 lead and never looked back. A five-point serving run by Jade Demps allowed the Badgers to secure a dominant 25-13 win in set four.

The score remained close for the entirety of set five, but Stucky’s three-point serving run allowed the Gators to take a 9-8 lead. A Wisconsin attack error and service error gave Florida a 13-11 advantage in the final moments of the match. A kill from Bre Kelley and a double block from Markova and Kelley allowed the Gators to capture a 15-13 victory over the Badgers.

Up Next

The Gators return to Gainesville to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide Wednesday at 7 p.m in its SEC season opener.

About Shailey Klein

Shailey Klein is a second-year journalism major specializing in sports and media at UF.

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