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Wednesday, January 19, 2022
<p>Rhamat Alhassan (1) celebrates with teammates during Florida's 3-0 win over Ole Miss on Oct. 28, 2016, in the Lemerand Center.</p>

Rhamat Alhassan (1) celebrates with teammates during Florida's 3-0 win over Ole Miss on Oct. 28, 2016, in the Lemerand Center.

Rhamat Alhassan stood behind the serve line and slammed a ball over the net that bounced about a foot inside LSU territory. The referee called the ball out, giving the point to the Tigers.

Head coach Mary Wise, adamant the ball was in, walked over to the scoring desk and raised her yellow challenge card.

After a minute-long review overturned the call and gave Alhassan her second ace of the match, libero Caroline Knop ran to the sideline, sliding to her knees before Gator chomping with freshman defensive specialist Chanelle Hargreaves while the rest of Florida’s bench broke out in jubilation.

“It’s a celebration of the hard work (Alhassan’s) put in,” Wise said.

Alhassan’s ensuing serve run in that second set was short lived, but the Gators’ energy didn’t cease.

Behind an all-around dominant performance from Alhassan, a multifaceted offensive attack and a stifling defensive outing, the No. 9 Gators cruised to a 3-0 victory over LSU on Sunday to close out a perfect four-match homestand and keep Florida at the top of the Southeastern Conference leaderboard with seven regular-season conference matches to play.

“I think we all played well,” said senior right-side hitter Alex Holston, who led the Gators with 10 kills and tallied a .714 hitting efficiency. “We executed the game plan well and we won. We’re all happy about that.”

Alhassan made her presence known in all phases of the match. The 6-foot-4 middle blocker recorded seven kills and a team-high-tying four blocks while at the net. On the defensive side, the junior recorded a pair of service aces and a career-high-tying five digs.

In the first set, Alhassan led a seven-point serving run during which she recorded her fifth ace of the season and the Gators forced LSU to commit five attack errors. The run gave UF a 16-5 advantage in a set it eventually won 25-11.

“Her serving, her back-row play, that doesn’t come easy to her,” Wise said. “It’s not like the blocking and hitting when she’s jumping over 11 feet. She’s had to work through that to get to this point.”

In addition to Alhassan and Holston, freshman middle blocker Darielle King played a major role in Florida’s offense on Sunday. King, seeing her first extensive playing time since UF’s 3-0 win against LIU Brooklyn in early September, tallied six kills and a career-high-tying four blocks against LSU.

King subbed in for fellow freshman Rachael Kramer midway through the first set and said she was nervous as she took the court.

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But as the match progressed, her anxiety subsided and she began to look like a starter by the match’s conclusion.

“I’ve been watching and kind of scoping things out (this season), so I haven’t really had the opportunity to go out and play,” King said. “I just felt so happy. It was a good feeling.”

Florida hit .421 as a team, marking the third time during the four-match homestand where the Gators surpassed the .400 mark. Five Gators recorded at least five kills.

Conversely, Florida (20-2, 10-1 SEC) held LSU to a .022 hitting efficiency in the three-set contest. The Gators were efficient behind the serve line and at the net, using cross-court swings to keep the Tigers (7-15, 2-9 SEC) on their toes for a majority of the match while a back row led by Knop stymied everything LSU threw at them.

Contact Jordan McPherson at jmcpherson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter at @J_McPherson1126

Rhamat Alhassan (1) celebrates with teammates during Florida's 3-0 win over Ole Miss on Oct. 28, 2016, in the Lemerand Center.

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