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Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Gators seem to have a flare for the dramatic.

Down 2-1, No. 5 Florida (4-0) fought back to force a fifth set for the second straight game and eventually beat No. 11 Stanford 3-2 (25-20, 15-25, 16-25, 27-25, 15-9). With the win, UF reserved a spot in the championship game of the Community Bankers Classic on Saturday at 10 p.m. against Pacific (4-0).

After the first set of the match, the Gators were in control and had a .406 hitting percentage as a team, but that all changed in the next two frames. UF was dominated by the Cardinals in the second and third sets by a combined 19 points.

"That was as bad as a performance in back-to-back sets we've had all year," coach Mary Wise said. "Maybe set one came a little too easily."

It looked as if the Gators were going to fall to Stanford for the second straight year when the Cardinals were up 21-15 in the fourth set and only needed four points to win the match.

But UF had other ideas as Lauren Bledsoe and Colleen Ward teamed up for five kills and willed the team to a fourth set victory.

In the fifth set, UF used the momentum from its comeback and never looked back as it won the set without much of a fight from Stanford.

"Not only was it our second match in a row to win in five, but it was our second to come back from being down at match point," Wise said. "To do that twice in two matches is amazing. I can't say enough about our team's resiliency."

Sophomore setter Kelly Murphy led the team with 14 kills, 28 assists and 10 digs, her seventh career triple-double. She has finished every game this season with at least a double-double.

However, the Gators still could not outblock their opponent - they haven't outblocked an opponent so far this season. UF finished with seven blocks to the Cardinals 13 blocks.

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