Gator Volleyball Completes Sweep of Arkansas

The Arkansas Razorbacks have never won a match in Gainesville in volleyball, and it didn’t start this weekend. On Saturday, the Gators swept Arkansas in three straight sets. On Sunday, the match played out differently as Arkansas walked back into Gator territory prepared. The Hogs managed to hold the Gators all the way out to the fifth set, but ultimately, Florida came out on top.

The Gators improve to 18-4 on the year and 10-2 in the SEC after winning three straight matches, while Arkansas falls to 14-7 overall and 5-6 in league play.

Spooky Start for the Gators

Florida had a very rocky start, trailing 12-7 when coach Mary Wise called their first timeout. Arkansas didn’t let that stop their momentum, and continued to score three more points before Florida’s Gabrielle Essix broke their streak. The Razorbacks kept their lead over the Gators, holding a seven-point lead, 20-13, going into the media timeout.

Outside hitter Taylor Head and middle blocker Tatum Shipes led Arkansas through the first set.  Florida attempted to hang on but ultimately lost the first set 25-20. This is the first time in the two match series that the Hogs have scored over 20 points.

Gators Find Their Footing

Following a difficult first set for the Gators, Arkansas didn’t take its foot off the gas. The Razorbacks scored three points before Florida’s first point of the set. The Gators struggled to score with the number of service errors racking up in Arkansas’s favor.

This set proved to be just as difficult as the first, with multiple service errors on both sides of the net. Arkansas extended its lead to 11-5, but was followed quickly by three straight points from Florida’s senior Marina Markova. Going into the media timeout, the score was 15-10 Arkansas.

Coming out of the break, Florida scored two points before getting interrupted by another net error. The Gators took their first timeout at 17-12 after Arkansas delivered an ace. Florida began a comeback and brought the score to 19-17 before Arkansas took their first timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Gators tied the set at 19, and it was a back-and-forth battle from there. Florida took their first lead of the day at 23-22, forcing the Hogs to take their second timeout.

Merritt Beason delivered a contested kill on set point which Razorback coach Jason Watson challenged. The point was confirmed, ending with a score of 25-23 for the Gators.

Gators Back On Track

Moving with the momentum from the second set, Florida took an early 3-2 lead into the third set. Things finally started clicking into place, and the lead extended further from a four-point run. Markova held her left corner very well, forcing Arkansas to take their first timeout of the set at 8-3 Gators.

The Razorbacks tried to keep it at only a five-point lead, but Florida continued to pull further and further away. After freshman Emily Canaan served the first ace of the game to bring the score to 19-11, Arkansas took their second timeout.

The two teams went back and forth but the Gators ultimately came out on top, finishing the set 25-18 Florida.

Gators Flop in the Fourth

Opening set four, Arkansas took their first lead since the first set, 3-2. The Razorbacks took their lead and ran, forcing Florida to take a timeout at the 11-6 mark.

Canaan delivered the second ace of the game for the Gators, but it wasn’t enough momentum to put them back on top. Outside hitter Hailey Dirrigl was a huge playmaker for the Hogs in the fourth set and helped force the second Gators timeout at 21-16. The Gators attempted to hang on, but Arkansas came out on top with a final set score of 25-20.

Set Five

At the opening of set five, Florida scored the first point. Arkansas quickly answered with a point of their own but would be left in the dust after another ace from libero Elli McKissock and a 6-0  run. Arkansas took their second timeout at 10-3 to slow the Gators down, but their momentum kept building.

Another ace delivered by Stucky followed by a match point from Sofia Victoria placed the Gators on top, sealing the fifth set with a score of 15-7.

Up Next

The Missouri Tigers will travel to Gainesville to play the Gators on Friday, November 4 with first serve slated for 7 p.m.

About Cassi Narcus

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