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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Gators volleyball holds off Dayton Flyers in five-set nailbiter on the road

<p>Thayer Hall.</p>

Thayer Hall.

It took two sets and a must-win situation, but Florida’s volleyball team found its way to a five-set win over the Dayton Flyers Saturday night in Louisville, Kentucky, in nailbiter fashion. 

The third frame looked pretty grim for the Gators after dropping the opening two sets. The last time Florida (2-0) took a match to five and won was against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Oct. 12. The last time the Gators won after dropping the first two opening frames was Oct. 21, 2012 against Texas A&M. History, to say the least, was not on Florida’s side. 

But Saturday told a different story for a more veteran-heavy squad that seems to have learned some lessons since the last time it was in this situation. 

It was an all-hands-on-deck kind of match for the Gators, as the entire team (minus pin hitters Morgyn Greer and T’ara Ceasar and setter Anaya Martin) made its way onto the court at some point throughout the match. Inconsistency among Florida’s starters prompted coach Mary Wise to throw in the cards and see which hand played out best. 

Dayton (0-2) led the opening frame in kills (18) and total attacks (38) for a hitting percentage of .368 with both the Gators and Flyers docking four attack errors each. Florida, however, made one fewer hitting attempt than Dayton in the first set, prompting its 25-21 loss. 

Things didn’t improve for the Gators in the second set as the team struggled to get any kind of serving run going, with most of the rotations only making a single trip back to the service line before having to give up the ball to the Flyers once again. The inconsistency on the court contributed to the Gators’ 25-17 loss in the second frame. UF was 0-4 in the 2018 season when dropping the first two sets. 

Florida’s mistakes finally subsided under the leadership of sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall, who led both teams with 25 kills on the match. Hall’s energy on the court helped boost her teammates to a third set win over the Flyers, 25-16. 

However, the third set boost didn’t last long as Florida started to fall into the same trap it did in the first two frames. A strong offensive front from the Flyers and very few errors kept the teams within reach of each other for most of the fourth set. 

Hall was able to capitalize on her play once again as she finished off a fourth-set 25-23 win for the Gators with back-to-back kills, totaling seven kills in the fourth frame alone.

The fifth set saw a lot of back-and-forth between the Gators and Flyers with neither team making many errors in the final frame. Florida, however, was able to squeak out the win 16-14 after dropping the two opening sets, giving UF its first full-comeback win since 2012.

Follow Mari Faiello @faiello_mari. Contact her at

Thayer Hall.

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