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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Although this is the first Gators team under coach Mary Wise to not win the conference, that won’t be the only way she remembers it.

No. 15 Florida (22-5, 16-4 Southeastern Conference) gave Wise her 600th career victory at UF with a sweep of South Carolina (14-16, 5-15 SEC) on Friday 3-0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-12).

“It feels like we redeemed ourselves a little bit,” junior Lauren Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe played a huge role in getting Wise to the milestone as she played at the middle blocker position for the second consecutive match and notched four kills, two aces and three and a half blocks.

“My team helps me out a lot because I haven’t played middle since my senior year in high school,” she said. “So I haven’t really had any real problems with the adjustment.”

The Gators also ran a one-setter offense for the second match in a row and hit a season-high .519 hitting efficiency while doing so.

Sophomore Kelly Murphy led the way as she dished out 28 assists and also knocked down nine kills despite playing as the setter for most of the match.

“We’ve played a lot with two setters, but we ran a little more of the 5-1 offense today just to get more experience if we go to it down the road,” Wise said.

The ability for UF to have junior opposite hitter Callie Rivers and Bledsoe playing together has given the Gators an added offensive dimension that has helped them to two-straight impressive victories.

“By playing these players that are versatile enough to play different positions, it allows us to get all of our playmakers on the court at the same time,” Wise said.

Sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel finished with a match-high 11 kills.

Wise will try for her 601st victory against Notre Dame (21-5, 14-0 Big East) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as UF honors seniors Elyse Cusack and Kristina Johnson before the match.

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