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Saturday, January 28, 2023

After surviving an early scare, the No. 6 UF volleyball team defeated Florida State 3-1 (24-30, 30-11 30-21, 30-21), extending the Gators' streak of consecutive victories against the Seminoles to 16 matches.

UF won the match in the fourth game off a kill from redshirt freshman outside hitter Janine Williams, but the story of the match was the difference between the first and second games.

"We knew that FSU is a really good team, a great serving team with some good hitters," senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton said. "We completely did a no-show. Didn't show up to play."

FSU got off to a great start in game one, causing UF to call a timeout after falling behind 13-8. The Gators' kills were not falling, and FSU was blocking attacks and serving the ball hard.

"I don't know where our heads were," Hampton said. "We kind of snapped out of it between games one and two. We talked to each other and said we've got to get better or else we're going to lose on our home court, and that's unacceptable."

After game one, it appeared the teams were playing a completely different match.

Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray scored three quick kills in game two, and sophomore libero Elyse Cusack and junior defensive specialist Christina Diaz served aces as UF took a 9-2 lead.

UF (6-0) ended the match with 16 blocks - a season high - and also had 24 kills from its middle blockers.

"We played well when we started blocking balls," Coach Mary Wise said. "We thought we had a matchup advantage in the middle, and tonight it was Kisya (Killingsworth) and Kelsey's (Bowers) turn."

The Gators had a .650 hitting percentage, while FSU hit a lowly .043 in the second game.

"Just in general as a team, we were more aggressive in games two through four," Hampton said. "In game one we were passive…we were scared of getting blocks, scared of getting errors, and it showed in how the score turned out and how we were playing.

"We told each other just go out and swing. You're going to get blocks, you're going to get errors."

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The Gators continued to roll in game three, moving out to an 11-4 lead before the Seminoles called their first timeout.

The break was of no use to FSU. Bowers continued to serve for seven straight points, and the lead was up to 18-5 when the Seminoles burned their second timeout.

In the middle of the game, FSU decreased the 13-point lead to five while junior outside hitter Mira Djuric was serving. The Gators finally stopped the Seminoles after six-straight points and won the game on a Killingsworth kill.

Hampton exploded in the game with eight kills.

The fourth game was tied nine times by the time the score was 10-10.

UF was able to grab a three-point lead at 15-12 and increased the margin to five when Bowers blocked two attacks on the same point.

Hampton led the team with 16 kills, one of four Gators to reach double figures.

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