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Monday, May 27, 2024

Before Sunday’s meeting against Mississippi State, Florida coach Mary Wise said the key to the match would be serving and passing.

The No. 2 Gators (13-1, 6-0) dominated the Bulldogs (11-6, 3-3) in both categories en route to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-16) victory in Starkville, Miss.

Florida has now gone three straight matches without dropping a set.

The Gators recorded zero reception errors and nine aces

“This was one of our better serving-passing performances of the season,” Wise said.

Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe set a career high with four service aces. She also hit a match-high .692 with nine kills on 13 total attacks.

Junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson also came up big for the Gators with eight kills on 12 swings, hitting .667.

Bledsoe and Anderson were errorless in the match.

“I thought Lauren and Cassandra both played really well today,” Wise said. “They anchored our defense that held Mississippi State to just .161 hitting, touched a lot of balls and were equally impressive offensively. We rely heavily on our middle blockers, and they were very good today.”

In the first set, the Gators were only up 11-9 before rallying with nine consecutive points — three of which were back-to-back-to-back aces by Bledsoe. The Gators went on to hit .320 in the first set.

After the Gators only recorded .242 percentage in the second set, the team bounced back with a .400 hitting percentage in the final set to finish at .327 as a team for the day.

The Gators held the Bulldogs to just a .161 hitting percentage.

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“That’s the number I’m most pleased with,” Wise said. “We’re not going to be able to ace people off the court every night. I think we were able to put the heat on them early.”

Junior setter Kelly Murphy hit .476 to go along with 13 kills and 21 assists — both match highs. She also pitched in on defense with seven digs.

Freshman setter Chanel Brown recorded 16 assists, a service ace and six digs. Wise said that as Brown gets better, so too will Murphy.

“Kelly’s got one of the elite hitting arms in the country,” Wise said. “As Chanel gets more reps and experience, it’s not good for our opponents.”

After a hard-fought 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-20) victory at Alabama on Friday, the Gators responded with an easy win Sunday.

“What this team understands is that we’re a work in progress,” Wise said. “Every time we get better in one area then we go to the next.”

A radio broadcast contributed to this report.

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