Florida Gators Volleyball
The Gators volleyball team celebrates a point in the team's victory over Sacramento State Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Emma Bissell.

Gators Volleyball Falls to Kentucky in Top-20 Matchup

The No. 20 Gators volleyball team fell to No. 13 Kentucky in four sets Sunday afternoon. This marks the third straight loss for the Gators, all of which came at home.


The Gators Fall Behind

The first two sets saw the match level at one set apiece. In the first set alone, there were 12 tied scores and four lead changes. The teams were going back and forth throughout, previewing a tight contest in the rest of the game.

Despite the strong start, Kentucky’s defense proved solid down the stretch. Florida was held to a hitting percentage of .229 and the Wildcats had nine blocks and 57 digs as a team.

Florida’s freshman phenom Kennedy Martin was the only one who was able to get consistent offensive production. Martin finished the game with 27 kills on an efficient .423 clip. Martin was also the only Gator in double-digit kills and the only one with a hitting percentage over .267.

Kentucky chose to prevent Florida’s other attackers from getting hot and allowed Martin to play as usual. The focus on other hitters such as AC Fitzpatrick and Sofia Victoria proved successful, leading the Wildcats to wins in both the third and fourth sets. The duo of Victoria and Fitzpatrick were only able to post a combined five kills during those two sets.


Florida Bright Spots

Florida’s defense was as successful as always, posting 13 blocks and 52 digs on the game. They were able to put together strong rallies throughout the game and keep plays alive with acrobatic digs and blocks.

Blocker Gabbi Essix had seven blocks off the bench for the Gators and was a major presence in the middle. Similarly, Elli McKissock had 19 digs to lead the team.

It seemed like a solid game plan overall for Florida, but they need to find ways to score outside of Martin if they are going to compete with high-level opponents.

Looking Ahead

Despite the three-game losing streak, Florida has a much easier schedule over the next week. The Gators had to play No. 10 Arkansas, No. 11 Tennessee and No. 13 Kentucky in the span of a week, really testing their strength. In the coming week they should have it easier in two unranked teams in LSU and Alabama. As we move into the homestretch of the regular season, the Gators have a chance to gain some momentum with wins in these games.

About Nick Abreu

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