Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Saturday, January 28, 2023

The match had been over for more than 20 minutes, but Lauren Bledsoe's heart was still beating rapidly.

BIt?s high up there,C Bledsoe said of her heart rate. BIt?s really cool though. I love the feeling.C

What?s not to love?

The freshman outside hitter sent the UF volleyball team to the Sweet 16 for the 16th time in 17 years with a left-side kill in overtime of game three.

UF came from behind in all three games of its second-round sweep of Oklahoma Friday night (30-24, 30-24, 36-34) to advance to the regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

They will play the winner of today?s Texas-LSU second-round match this Friday in Gainesville.

Heroics from players in unusual positions led the Gators to their thrilling third-game win.

UF was down 28-24, but scored four straight points behind Bledsoe?s service run.

BWe asked Lauren to go back and serve - and understand I?m not sure we?ve seen Lauren serve five in a row in in practice,C UF coach Mary Wise said.

Bledsoe met the challenge and saved the Gators from having to go to a game four.

BI was definitely feeling the pressure,C Bledsoe said. BGoing back there I just knew I had to take a couple deep breaths, get it over the net, that I?m confident that our team can definitely come back. So, if I just do my part, I know that they?ll probably do theirs.C

Also out of place in the back row was senior opposite hitter Amber McCray, who served twice with the game tied at 31 and ran around the court to dig balls she would not normally be able to reach while in the front row.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

BAmber has not played back row in a long time, not in practice, not in matches,C Wise said. BShe would have gone into the stands to save that ball.C

The home crowd also helped to energize UF?s comeback. The fans lived and died with each point in the extra part of game three, and Wise loved seeing her team step up at home.

BGame three was as great a performance as we?ve had on the O?Connell Center floor,C UF coach Mary Wise said.

Bledsoe?s match-winning kill was her 12th on the night, a career high. Three other Gators - McCray, freshman Callie Rivers and junior Kelsey Bowers - also had at least 10 kills in the match.

The Gators were also down in the early parts of game two, but tied the game at 9-9 and took a lead they would not relinquish on two straight double blocks from Bowers and senior setter Angie McGinnis.

BAngie, who has put up All-American numbers for a long time, even as good as she is, she?s raised her levels,C Wise said.

UF won the game on another double block, this time from Bowers and Rivers.

The Gators saw themselves in a hole to begin the match, down 13-15 at the electronic timeout of game one.

But in that first game, UF?s blocking - eight to Oklahoma?s one - helped them come through.

BThe match was won in game one with how well we blocked,C Wise said.

A solo block from McGinnis gave UF the final point in the first frame.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.