Photo courtesy of @GatorsVB via Twitter.

No. 3 Gator Volleyball Team Falls to No. 1 Wisconsin in Five Sets After Stucky’s Injury

The Florida Gator volleyball squad put forth a heroic effort against the top-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday in the O’Connell Center but it fell just short in a five set loss.

The Florida faithful showed out to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in record fashion to support their Gators on Sunday afternoon.

With a total of 10,323 in attendance, a new program record was achieved, not only for the O’Dome, but it is now the most attended match hosted by an SEC school all-time. It is also the highest attendance for an on-campus volleyball match in the state of Florida.

Gators on Fire

Explosive play from the Gators was felt immediately in the game.

In the first set, Florida broke away extending a 10-9 lead to a 25-15 win, backed by a pair of stellar service aces from outside hitter Anna Dixon and three timely kills from sophomore setter, Alexis Stucky.

Five different players notched nine or more kills throughout the match.

6-foot-6 freshman Kennedy Martin led the team with 13, AC Fitzpatrick and Nnedi Okammor collected 11 (Okammor’s career-high), followed by Sofia Victoria and Dixon’s nine kills each.

Set 2 was a back and forth affair between the two teams, as Florida would win 25-22 and go up 2-0 in the match.

Key blocks from Okammor, who tallied eight on the day and smart, change-up kills from Martin made the difference for the Gators.

A mid-set dive by Fitzpatrick into the home bench to save a point grabbed the momentum for the Gators.

However, the life would be sucked out of the O’Dome momentarily when Stucky, star setter for the Gators and reigning SEC Freshman of The Year, exited the game due to an apparent knee injury and would not return after dishing out 17 assists.

Setter and Wisconsin-native Kennedy Muff, filled the gap for the Gators, stepping up with 28 assists in the match, but Stucky’s absence was certainly felt by this close-knit squad.

Badgers Bounce Back

Wisconsin took advantage of the seemingly stunned Gators.

The Badgers jumped out to an early 13-4 lead in the third set. Florida would play catch up as they committed 11 combined errors in consecutive sets, dropping both to Wisconsin 25-21 and 25-22 forcing a fifth set.

Senior right-side Anna Smrek finished with a match-high 16 kills while Sarah Franklin and Devyn Robinson added 13 and 10 kills for the Badgers.

Photo Finish

The fifth set was movie scene, featuring seven ties and four lead changes.

After a Wisconsin timeout, the Badgers went on a 4-0 run to take the lead, 12-10. The Gators made a tremendous comeback to pull within one at 14-13, but Wisconsin held on to win.ย  The Gators will now start SEC play with a match at Auburn on Friday.

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