Sunshine Invitational
The volleyball team huddles around each other in the team's loss against Minnesota on September 4. Photo from @GatorsVB on Twitter.

Florida Volleyball Falls to South Carolina in Five-Set Battle

The Florida volleyball team fell to South Carolina in five sets in Sunday afternoon’s SEC volleyball matchup. The Gators defeated the Gamecocks on Saturday in the first of a two-game series.

https://twitter.com/GatorsVB/status/1574020901993054211

 

Sophomore right side Merritt Beason led the way for the Gators, tallying 17 kills, six digs and five blocks. Senior outside hitter Marina Markova contributed 14 kills and three blocks, while freshman setter Alexis Stucky dished out 42 assists in the loss.

Gators Own Series

Despite losing on Sunday, the Gators still lead the all-time series against the Gamecocks with 62 wins and only ten losses. Furthermore, under head coach Mary Wise, Florida has boasted a 54-4 record against South Carolina. Sunday marked the Gators’ first loss to the Gamecocks since Nov. 2020.

Keeping it Close

Neither the Gamecocks nor the Gators could break away until midway through the first set. Holding onto a 14-13 advantage, Florida capitalized on South Carolina’s errors to extend the lead.

A Gamecock service error followed by a double block from Gabbi Essix and Markova, as well as an Essix kill forced South Carolina head coach Tom Mendoza to call a timeout down 17-13.

https://twitter.com/GatorsVB/status/1574104203143745536

 

Three kills by Sofia Victoria helped the Gators pull out a 25-20 set one victory.

Gamecocks Take Control

South Carolina jumped to a quick 7-3 lead over the Gators at the start of set two. Florida rallied to tie up the game, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold off the Gamecocks.

 

Kills at the end of the set from McKenzie Moorman, Lauren McCutcheon and Riley Whitesides allowed South Carolina to walk away with a 25-21 win in set two.

Gators Take Advantage of Errors

The Gators wasted no time capitalizing on Gamecock errors at the start of the third set. Three of Florida’s first four unanswered points were thanks to South Carolina attacking errors.

 

Errors continued to plague the Gamecocks throughout set three which resulted in a 25-17 Florida win.

Gamecocks Recover

The Gamecocks responded in set four with a 25-22 win. After a back-and-forth start to the set, the momentum shifted to the Gators thanks to a failed challenge by the South Carolina coaching staff.

The score remained close throughout set four until kills from Whitesides and Moorman opened up the score for the Gamecocks. South Carolina took advantage of Florida’s attacking and service errors to secure the set four win.

South Carolina Secures the Match Win

The Gators had no answer for the Gamecocks in set five. A seven-point run allowed South Carolina to jump to a 9-4 lead. Whitesides tallied five kills in the final moments of set five to allow the Gamecocks to secure the match victory.

https://twitter.com/NCAAVolleyball/status/1574137815016816641

 

The Gators return to the court to face off against the Tennessee Volunteers Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in Knoxville, TN.

About Shailey Klein

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

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