Kentucky’s Brook Morgan fired a serve over the net in the third set that came careening down right between Florida’s Paige Hammons and Allie Gregory.
Both players stood still and looked to the other to make the play, and when the ball hit the floor, they looked down at their feet in exasperation. A disgusted Mary Wise behind them could do nothing but sit and shake her head.
It was that kind of a Wednesday night for the No. 11 Gators as they were swept for the first time since 2016 by No. 12 Kentucky in Lexington, 25-15, 25-18, 25-20.
Florida (19-5, 10-2 SEC) was again without its star outside hitter Thayer Hall for the second straight match with an undisclosed injury.
Hall’s absence had a significant impact on a Gators offense that could not get going all match. They posted an uninspiring .104 hitting percentage. Hall has averaged 11.9 kills per match this season. Junior Morgyn Greer, who rotated in place of the freshman outside hitter when Florida went to a 5-2 rotation, tallied just five kills. Right-side hitter Holly Carlton and middle blocker Taelor Kellum also struggled, registering just three combined kills on 22 swings.
Florida’s longest run of the match was a desperate 5-0 sequence while Kentucky (17-4, 11-0 SEC) held the match point in the third set. But it wasn’t enough as Kentucky’s Leah Edmond put it away with a booming kill.
Edmond gave the UF defense fits all match. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter was held to just three kills in the first set but opened her game up in the final two sets to end with 16 total kills on 41 swings. She also made 10 digs and had two block assists on the defensive side of the ball.
Edmond’s impressive performance, combined with Kentucky’s staunch team defense, gave the Gators little room for error for the entire match. And Florida made plenty of errors.
UF tallied 20 total attack errors with six service errors and two blocking errors. Florida continuously shot itself in the foot in all three sets and allowed Kentucky to go on big runs and gain momentum.
Middle blocker Rachael Kramer was the lone bright spot on offense for Florida in the midweek matchup. The 6-foot-8 Arizona native totaled 11 kills on 20 swings and had the second-most efficient performance behind Haley Warner, who had two kills on three attempts.
Allie Gregory played well defensively, posting 21 digs, one shy of her career high.
Hall remains a mystery. It’s unclear whether she’ll suit up to play for her team’s next match against Arkansas on Sunday.
The Gators now sit third in the SEC behind Kentucky and Missouri, which they lost to in five sets on Oct. 21.
Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter at @dyrudolph and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Middle blocker Rachael Kramer led the Gators with only seven kills in their 3-0 sweep at the hands of Tennessee on Wednesday.