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Friday, March 31, 2023

The decision that helped win Friday's match for the Gators was made before it even started.

No.9 Florida (13-3, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) almost did not start junior opposite hitter Callie Rivers who helped the Gators sweep Auburn 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-21).

In her second start of the season, Rivers recorded ten kills to go along with only one error and a .643 hitting efficiency.

"I thought Callie swung at the ball with a lot of aggressiveness and a lot of confidence," UF coach Mary Wise said. "We debated about whether we should go back to Bledsoe but Callie was hitting at such a high efficiency, it was hard to keep her on the bench."

But Wise didn't have to think twice about starting sophomore setter Kelly Murphy, who recorded her fifth triple-double of the season. She finished the night with 11 kills, 19 assists and 12 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward bounced back from a poor performance with a 12-kill effort against Auburn (11-8, 3-5 SEC).

UF's front row won the blocking battle against the Tigers 10-4. Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson led the way with one block and five block assists.

However, the most impressive aspect of the match was the Gators' ability to put the Tigers away in the third set.

After running away with the first two sets, UF found itself down 12-5 in the third set. But it used a four-point service run from Murphy to get back within striking distance and eventually win it.

The Gators will now look to carry their newfound momentum with them as they travel to Athens, Ga., to take on Georgia (11-8, 2-6 SEC) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

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