Holly Carlton must have felt like she had the weight of the O’Dome on her shoulders after helping her team fight point after point in the second set, a frame the Gators trailed more than they led.
But no anxiety showed as Carlton took her approach toward the endline and sent the blue and white sphere flying over the net with a serve on set point.
The floater ricocheted off of FSU’s Payton Caffrey and into the stands.
From there, No. 11 Florida (6-2) took over the match, notching its 43rd win of the series against in-state rival No. 23 Florida State (5-3) Wednesday night in the O’Connell Center.
The first set saw a good bit of back and forth between the Gators and Seminoles before Florida found its stride. Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall led the charge with 14 kills on 28 swings throughout the match, only logging one error.
Hall exposed a couple of sweet spots on FSU’s side of the net with hard-cross kills and shots to the belly of the court. And junior outside hitter Paige Hammons was right there with her notching 10 kills herself.
Hammons said the coaching staff played a huge role in giving the team insight on open shots and the best spots on the court for their attacks.
“It’s making the right decisions as a setter, making the right decisions as hitters, but at some point as hitters at this level, you have to bring heat,” coach Mary Wise said after the match. “You have to pop the ball and it’s really hard to do that if you're off time.”
The second set saw a different Florida squad than the first frame, with the Gators trailing for the most part.
It wasn’t until sophomore setter Marlie Monserez notched back-to-back dumps to the center of the court (essentially, the setter’s way of getting a kill) that Florida took its second lead of the frame, 17-16.
Monserez had an incredible night logging 40 assists and four kills, an abnormal accomplishment for a setter to achieve in a three-set match.
“I thought Marlie (Monserez) was her best today and it’s pretty heroic what she’s doing with the game and controlling the ball as good as she does,” Wise said. “And as a result, the hitters get such good looks.”
And while Monserez was happy to log some points for her team offensively, she credited everything back to her offense and making things easier for them in the long run.
“When our hitters are hitting so well, it takes a lot of pressure off of them when I can attack,” Monserez said. “And when I can attack it opens up seams, so everything is just to open up my hitters.”
Florida garnered a five-point lead before the Seminoles started to regain some momentum in the second frame, tying it up at 23-all. The O’Dome crowd watched each play with intensity as the Gators battled one rally after the next to take the set. Back-to-back kills from Hall and Carlton followed by a service ace from Carlton gave Florida the second frame win.
The Gators sealed the win against their in-state rival in the third frame, 25-14. Overall, Florida’s offense stood out in the final set as the Gators out-killed the Seminoles 11-5 for the match win.
Senior middle blocker Rachael Kramer returned to action Wednesday night after missing two games this weekend with an undisclosed injury.
In a duo with sophomore middle blocker Lauren Dooley, the two combined for 15 kills on 29 swings. Dooley alone claimed nine of those kills.
“I can’t say we’ve seen what we’ve seen in the last two matches at all in the past month, until about a week ago,” Wise said. “Funny thing about confidence, she’s playing with a lot of it right now.”
Follow Mari Faiello on Twitter @faiello_mari. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marlie Monserez tallied 40 assists on Tuesday night.