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Saturday, January 28, 2023
<p dir="ltr"><span>Redshirt junior opposite attacker Holly Carlton is second on Florida’s roster with 107 kills behind sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall (169). Carlton played a major role on the blocking front in UF’s 3-1 win over Georgia on Sunday afternoon in the O’Connell Center and will be vital in UF’s match at Kentucky on Sunday.</span></p>

Redshirt junior opposite attacker Holly Carlton is second on Florida’s roster with 107 kills behind sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall (169). Carlton played a major role on the blocking front in UF’s 3-1 win over Georgia on Sunday afternoon in the O’Connell Center and will be vital in UF’s match at Kentucky on Sunday.

Florida’s fate was practically etched on a tombstone Sunday afternoon, as it trailed Georgia 19-11 in the third set, having already lost the first frame.

Any hope of a comeback was eight points away. But then it wasn’t. 

One by one Florida inched its way closer to 19, and with every point it notched, Georgia’s lead started dissipating. 

A key block from opposite attacker Holly Carlton on the right side slammed the ball from the palms of her hands into the floor. The play forced Georgia to burn its second timeout of the frame and pulled the Gators within one, 22-21.

A kill from Carlton brought Florida up 24-23, and another big block on the right side sealed a third set win for UF. 

The momentum from the third frame propelled the Gators (11-2) through the fourth set, taking the match win (22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-17) and keeping an undefeated record in SEC play (2-0).

“That was some pretty good volleyball,” coach Mary Wise said after the match. “Credit Georgia, they played so clean. They didn’t make any unforced errors early on and didn’t give us any points. They took it to us, but things withheld and (our) players responded.”

Here are two things that helped Florida notch the win at home:

Adjustments on the block

A tough Georgia offense showed what it could do early in Sunday’s matchup. Kill after kill, the Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run to go up 15-10 against Florida in the first set.

Outside hitter Kacie Evans in particular was a big threat on Georgia’s roster, logging 16 kills (the highest of both rosters) on 42 swings. 

Florida’s block couldn’t take away the heat in the opening set, allowing Evans to score repeatedly. But in the second set, the Gators finally made some adjustments. 

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“Blocking does tend to come in bunches and getting into a rhythm,” Wise said. 

Carlton and setter Marlie Monserez were front-lined for making those adjustments on the right-side pin. 

“I thought the coaches did a great job giving us a nice game plan going into the match,” Carlton said. “We were prepared mentally, but coming out I didn’t think that we were prepared for what kind of team it was going to be. It took us a little bit of time to adjust the rhythm of our block and getting adjusted to what shots they might take.”

Adjustments on shots

While Georgia’s offense was solid through and through, Florida’s offense took a while to truly start up. 

Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall only logged four kills in the opening frame (compared to the six Evans notched), and Carlton was right behind her with three. 

Once the team regrouped after the first set, Hall found the open court and so did Carlton. 

Hall opted to use the tip shot a lot more than she has previously, even going so far as to tip out of the back row.

Carlton also changed things up by hitting more shots down the line and hitting cross-court into the deep corners.

Both methods proved their worth in the 3-1 match win. 

“Our team right now, we’re a team that likes to feel our way into matches before we start playing well,” libero Allie Gregory said. “We’re working on that, but I’m proud of the team for making adjustments, I made adjustments, and just following the game plan our coaches work so hard on. We just have to get a little quicker at it.” 

Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari. Contact her at mfaiello@alligator.org.

Redshirt junior opposite attacker Holly Carlton is second on Florida’s roster with 107 kills behind sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall (169). Carlton played a major role on the blocking front in UF’s 3-1 win over Georgia on Sunday afternoon in the O’Connell Center and will be vital in UF’s match at Kentucky on Sunday.

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