Florida’s weekend went as expected, coming out of the Gators Invitational with three wins.
But what wasn’t expected was the fact that not one of those games finished with a set loss for UF as the team swept all three of its opponents in Liberty, Northern Arizona and Louisiana.
“To play the back-to-back matches and not drop a set was pretty good,” coach Mary Wise said after Friday’s double-header. “There’s a lot of good things happening on the offense and defense.”
It’s a difficult feat to come out of a tournament without dropping a set no matter who you’re playing, but it’s even more difficult when you’re rotating in players off the bench.
Let’s take a look at who stood out the most for the Gators this weekend overall:
Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall, First star
There’s little to question why Thayer Hall was named tournament MVP this weekend.
The sophomore outside hitter tallied 33 kills on three matches and 83 swings, only logging 12 errors in the process.
Since Hall put on her orange-and-blue jersey last season, she has played an integral role on this Gators roster and will continue to do so as the team enters conference play Friday against Auburn at home.
“The connection with Marlie (Monserez) has gotten even closer than it was last year,” Hall said after Friday night’s match against Northern Arizona. “She’s really taken control of our offense.”
Wise singled out Hall’s incredible play on Friday, which had her hitting .388 on the nighttime match.
“You usually see that from a middle, not an outside hitter,” Wise said. “It just tells you how well she’s controlling the ball and what a great job Marlie (Monserez) is doing in delivering it.”
Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Dooley, Second star
Rachael Kramer loves playing the role of “mama” to her fellow middle, sophomore Lauren Dooley.
“It makes me so proud,” Kramer said. “You see it every day in the gym, because I see how hard all of us work and we’re such a close middle family, so to see your friends do well on the court is the greatest thing in the world…and having it be the people you’re trying to mentor and teach makes it that much sweeter.”
Dooley logged playing time in eight of Florida’s nine sets, this weekend notching eight kills on 26 swings.
Wise said earlier in the week that the team is really seeing Dooley’s play come to life with her confidence.
The 6-foot-6 middle blocker is expected to play a major role as the Gators enter SEC play, and many got to see just what Dooley could bring to the court this weekend.
Senior libero Allie Gregory, Third star
Most people don’t see the gritty aspects of defense like they do in any kind of offense, but you can’t ignore senior libero Allie Gregory’s level of play this weekend.
The defensive specialist logged 45 digs in three matches over a two-day span. She notched a career-high 24 digs against Louisiana on Saturday, two more than she logged against Minnesota on Sept. 7.
Gregory anchored the defense, only missing three passes on serve receive.
And she’ll continue to lead the charge in the back row with help from defensive specialists Paula Cerame, Riley Fischer and Chanelle Hargreaves in SEC play at the end of this week.
Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall was named the MVP of the Gators Invitational after notching a 33-kill weekend.