Gabrielle Essix celebrates after a point in the Gator volleyball team's win over VCU on Saturday. Photo from Sydney Calle.

Gators fall to Georgia Bulldogs in three

The No. 11 Gators fell to the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday night in three sets, their first loss since they played South Carolina. This is also the first time this season that the Gators did not win a single set.

This is the first time Georgia has swept a ranked opponent since 1993 and Georgia’s first sweep of Florida since 1989.

Marina Markova recorded a team-high 14 kills, her 13th match this season with double digit kills. Merritt Beason and Sofia Victoria followed behind Markova with seven kills, and Alexis Stucky posted 31 assists and five digs. As a team, Florida had nine blocks at the net, led by five from Gabrielle Essix. Beason added four blocks on the night, while Markova posted three.

Close Sets

Florida started in the lead in the first set, but the Bulldogs pulled ahead with an 8-0 run, forcing a Florida timeout at the 8-3 mark. The Bulldog’s run featured two service aces from Mackenzie Norris and two kills from senior Kacie Evans. The Gators tried to regain their lead, but Georgia pulled ahead once again, taking an 18-12 lead going into Florida’s final timeout.

Following the break, the Gators tied the set at 20 and then took their first lead at 22-21, forcing a Georgia timeout. The Bulldogs regrouped and won the next four points to take the set 25-22. Markova posted a team-high five kills in the set, followed by four from Beason.

In the second set, the Gators once again took the lead, forcing an early Bulldogs timeout at 8-3. Florida was finally picking up some steam, causing Georgia to take another timeout at the 12-6 mark.

The Bulldogs came out of their second timeout fighting, pushing back to the top and taking a one-point lead at 18-17. The Bulldogs continued their streak, and managed to hold on to the second victory of the night with a score of 25-23. Markova once again led the offense, finishing the set with five kills.

In the third set, Georgia started with the lead at 7-3, but the Gators pushed to tie the set at seven. Neither team held more than a two-point advantage until the 13th point, when the Bulldogs pulled ahead to 16-13.

Georgia took a five-point lead to put the score at 21-16, but the Gators were not going to give up and put the score back within three at 21-18. Georgia closed the last set on a 4-2 run to make the final score for the third set 25-20.

The Gators will move to 15-4 overall and 7-2 in SEC play. They return to the court on Wednesday, Oct. 26 where they will head to Auburn to play the Tigers. First serve is slated for 8 p.m.

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