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Sunday, May 29, 2022

UPSET: Florida stunned by Northern Arizona in Day 1 of Lumberjack Invitational

<p>Despite registering a season-high 17 kills against Northern Arizona on Friday night, middle blocker Rachael Kramer and the No. 8 Gators fell in five sets. </p>

Despite registering a season-high 17 kills against Northern Arizona on Friday night, middle blocker Rachael Kramer and the No. 8 Gators fell in five sets. 

They started the fifth set with a lead, as they did in almost every set before. It ended with two kills by Northern Arizona’s redshirt senior outside hitter Kaylie Jorgenson to upset the No. 8 Florida Gators.

While UF fans slept, NAU fans rushed the court and swarmed their players to congratulate them on the program’s first ever win over a ranked opponent.

The Florida volleyball team split its first two matches at the Lumberjack Invitational in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Friday after it defeated California State but lost to host Northern Arizona in five sets.

In the first match, the Gators (4-3) glided past the CSUN Matadors (3-5) 25-12, 25-18, 25-12.

In that first match, the team recorded its highest offensive hitting percentage (.409) and allowed its lowest opponent hitting percentage (.025) this season.

Redshirt senior Allie Monserez talked earlier in the week about how the team needed to spread the ball around more, and it certainly did against CSUN.

Florida had five players with five or more kills in the three-set sweep. Junior middle blocker Rachael Kramer had six kills on 11 attempts along with six blocks. The Phoenix, Arizona, native entered the match with a dreadful .092 hitting percentage but rebounded against CSUN in front of her family and friends in attendance.

Outside hitter Thayer Hall also continued her run of dominance early in this season. The freshman from Spartanburg, South Carolina, registered seven kills in the sweep, including three pivotal kills in the 8-1 run to ice the match for the Gators.

Hall also recorded three aces, the most for UF. Coach Mary Wise was undoubtedly happy with her freshman’s ability on the serve.

“We felt that there were some seams to go after against CSUN,” Wise said after the first match. “We were happy with Thayer (Hall) with her serving today.”

The Gators then moved on to Northern Arizona (6-2) Friday night where they did not have as impressive of a performance. Even with the gym at almost 7,000 feet above sea level, the Gators still had to battle uphill for most of the match.

Florida bobbled the ball around and committed seven attack errors in the first set. The Lumberjacks took advantage and stormed to a 25-19 win over the Gators in front of their home crowd after a 13-2 run allowed them to come back from an early deficit.

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UF rebounded in the second, however, after it found more offensive rhythm. Kramer swung for four kills in the tying set, including a monster hit that gave her team winning point.

Kramer hit 17 kills by the end of the match on an efficient .600 hitting percentage. She eclipsed 10 kills for the first time this season.

NAU refuse to be intimidated, though. The crowd chanted and shouted while their team won the third set 25-22 off Jorgenson’s four clutch kills in the set.

The back-and-forward match continued after Florida took the next set 25-20 and pushed the match to a fifth set.

The efficient Lumberjack offense faltered in the fourth set and committed many crucial errors. Right side hitter Holly Carlton also took over and registered seven kills in the set, including a controversial one late that drew ‘boos’ from the Northern Arizona faithful.

Carlton finished the match with a career-high 19 kills.

NAU was not phased, however, as it battled from down 9-6 to win the fifth and final set 13-15, causing the Lumberjack fans to rush the court and mob their players.

The aggressive play by the Lumberjacks put the Gators on their heels for most of the match and exposed every mistake they made. Florida committed 28 attack errors and swung a disappointing .244 hitting percentage.

Florida will now face Southern Illinois on Saturday at noon for the final match of the Lumberjack Invitational.

 

Follow Dylan on Twitter at @dyrudolph and contact him at drudolph@alligator.org.

 

Despite registering a season-high 17 kills against Northern Arizona on Friday night, middle blocker Rachael Kramer and the No. 8 Gators fell in five sets. 

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