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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Never has a three-set match seemed so long.

After running out to a 22-19 lead in the third set, the Gators allowed the Crimson Tide back into the match as the set went back and forth until sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel knocked down three kills to help No. 10 Florida (17-3, 11-2 Southeastern Conference) take charge and eventually win the set 33-31.

With that victory, the Gators defeated Alabama (6-17, 4-9 SEC) 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 33-31) on Friday for their fifth win and sweep.

Jaeckel was at the top of her game for most of the match, finishing with a match-high 16 kills to go along with her clutch performance in the waning moments of the third set.

But she had some help from her fellow sophomore Kelly Murphy who recorded her sixth triple-double of the season as she stuffed the stat sheet with 10 kills, 23 assists and 15 digs.

However, not everything went the Gators' way against the Crimson Tide.

UF hit 11 service errors and could not find a consistent third offensive option for most of the match.

"Kristy and Kelly really carried us today in the match," coach Mary Wise said. "Sometimes you have to just gut one out when you aren't clicking on all cylinders, which we weren't tonight."

UF was also outblocked for the first time in eight matches by a margin of six to three which is something Wise does not want this team to get back in the habit of doing.

"We didn't block balls; when we block balls we win and when we don't we struggle," she said. "It's an issue we will address; we will watch video and see where we can get better."

On Sunday, the Gators will be right back on the court in search for a sharper performance as they travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State (6-18, 2-11 SEC).

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