The No. 11 Florida volleyball team travels to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to play LSU today at 8 p.m.
The Gators (11-3, 2-0 SEC) are on a seven-match win streak after sweeping Ole Miss and Mississippi State over the weekend.
“I think we’ll, at the end of the season, look back and go, ‘That was a weekend we should win’ because we’re home and it’s early in the season while young teams try and find their way,” coach Mary Wise said after the match on Sunday. “The challenge will be that we play both of these teams again a month from now.”
Florida will look to start 3-0 in conference play for the 24th time under Wise with a win over the Tigers.
UF’s aggressive serving was a big reason for the first conference wins last weekend. The team notched 20 service aces in the two matches, including a 13-ace performance against Ole Miss on Friday.
Florida has made it clear that it will continue to serve aggressively no matter who the opponent is on the other side of the net.
However, the team will need to keep the serving errors to a minimum. The Gators committed 11 service errors in the two matches. While it did not seem to have a significant effect, it may become a bigger issue as they get deeper into SEC play.
LSU (5-8, 0-2 SEC) enters today’s midweek contest on a two-match losing streak after it dropped both matches in the opening weekend of conference play.
The Tigers allowed big runs in crucial times in both losses, forcing them to fight uphill constantly. This was evident in the fifth set against Georgia on Friday when they allowed a 4-1 run to lose the set and the match.
The Gators’ offense hopes to expose this even further with good passing and constant attacks to create runs.
Sophomore outside hitter Paige Hammons led all returning players in kills with nine when Florida swept LSU in 2017. She is now a central part of the offense and is expected to get even more swings in 2018.
LSU will look to counter with its own offensive firepower, led by sophomore Taylor Bannister.
The 6-foot-5 sophomore hits from both sides of the court and has a team-leading 219 kills on an impressive 4.56 kills per set.
Bannister’s aggressive style, however, has resulted in lots of errors, hitting for an unremarkable .216 hitting percentage on the year. Florida’s front row, helped by senior middle blocker Taelor Kellum, is expected to be the key in creating errors against Bannister and the rest of the LSU offense.
Kellum has tallied a team-high 10 solo blocks this season. She earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after she recorded 22 blocks at the net in the final four preseason matches. She said even with the strong conference start, the SEC schedule still excites her.
“We’ve been waiting for (SEC play) for so long,” Kellum said. “Now that it’s here, I think we’ve done a really good job of handling our business.”
Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter @dyrudolph or contact him at email@example.com.
Sophomore outside hitter Paige Hammons led both the Florida and South Carolina rosters in kills (13) and total attacks (34) on Friday.