Right-side attacker Holly Carlton took a normal swing at the pin as the Gators trailed the Volunteers 24-21 toward the end of the third set.
She released into the ball, but instead of the sphere making contact on the opposite side of the court, it found the hands of Tennessee’s Erica Treiber and Tessa Grubbs.
The ball ricocheted off the block and rebounded back onto Florida’s side. It quickly found the open court in the midst of five defenders and secured a three-set sweep for the Volunteers. The first sweep, in fact, since 1988.
The No. 13 Florida Gators (23-6, 14-3 SEC) fell to the No. 22 Tennessee Volunteers on Wednesday night in Knoxville, Tennessee, with scores of 25-22, 25-16 and 25-21.
With the win, Tennessee (24-5, 15-2 SEC) secured their No. 2 spot in the SEC rankings following Kentucky, which is the only team in the SEC that is undefeated in conference play. Florida will come in at No. 3 in the SEC standings.
Here are two things that took down the Gators in Wednesday’s matchup:
Lack of consistency and unforced errors
A simple jump serve from Tennessee’s side of the court to Florida’s libero Allie Gregory was the best gift the Gators could have asked for as they trailed the Volunteers 23-20 late in the first set.
The perfect pass created a rare opportunity for an easy point as setter Allie Monserez sent the ball backward toward the right-side pin for Carlton to attack. She sent the ball flying over the top of the tape, but a defensive effort from Tennessee’s Callie Williams sent the ball back over the net to Florida’s side of the court.
Believing the ball to be out of bounds, not one of the six players on the court made an effort to save the play. The ball came crashing down just inside of the right sideline. Point Tennessee.
It was just this type of miscommunication and unforced error that led the Volunteers to a 3-0 sweep against the Gators Wednesday night.
Similar plays ensued, such as five service errors, three block errors and one ball handling error. Nine points right off the hand to give Tennessee just a bit of an advantage.
Not establishing the middles to assist the offense
When your middle blockers are swinging less than a third of your total attacks, it’s usually not a good sign. Especially when you have a powerhouse hitter like middle blocker Rachael Kramer standing on your side of the court.
Kramer swung on 23 hits and logged two errors and seven kills. Her counterpart Taelor Kellum scored four kills on 10 attacks and tallied three errors.
As a team, Florida hit at .118 percent on the night, the second-lowest hitting percentage logged this season, just ahead of the .104 hitting percent from the team’s 3-0 sweep at the hands of Kentucky.
During the second frame, Florida hit a flat .000, only recording six kills. It logged 31 kills on 110 swings compared to Tennessee’s 48 kills on 122 attacks.
Establishing the middle blockers begins with the first contact and if the pass isn’t perfect or within range it makes it that much more difficult to produce an efficient product that not only extends rallies but closes them out as well.
Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari or contact her 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.