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Sunday, February 05, 2023
<p dir="ltr">Redshirt junior middle blocker Darrielle King played an integral role in Florida’s sweep weekend at home against South Florida, James Madison and Long Beach State. The 6-foot-3 attacker notched a career-high 15 kills against the Beach and tallied 25 on the weekend. She will be one of Florida’s key players when the team takes on the Seminoles at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. </p>

Redshirt junior middle blocker Darrielle King played an integral role in Florida’s sweep weekend at home against South Florida, James Madison and Long Beach State. The 6-foot-3 attacker notched a career-high 15 kills against the Beach and tallied 25 on the weekend. She will be one of Florida’s key players when the team takes on the Seminoles at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. 

The Gators volleyball team (5-2) wrapped up a perfect 3-0 weekend on Saturday following a wild 3-2 win against Long Beach State. Here are two takeaways:

Gators’ depth shines

The greatest advantage the Gators had coming into the season was that they were returning much of the same roster that won 26 matches last season. The team does not have any freshmen, and that came in handy this weekend. 

UF’s depth was on display in a couple different ways during the tournament. Florida’s depth allowed it to spread the offense around multiple players. While the most kills any UF player had in a match this weekend was just 15, there were seven instances of a player with double-digit kills. 

Florida also has the capability to change its gameplan to suit which players are hot or not and prevent opposing defenses from focusing on just one player. For example, on Saturday night against LBSU, when sophomore Thayer Hall and redshirt junior Holly Carlton were hitting a combined .212, Florida instead turned to its middle blockers. 

Redshirt junior Darrielle King and sophomore Lauren Dooley in turn combined for 19 kills and only one error and scored several key points down the stretch in Florida’s comeback victory over the Beach. 

Coach Mary Wise also wasn’t afraid to turn to some of her other bench players, like defensive specialists Chanelle Hargreaves and Riley Fischer and outside hitter Mia Sokolowski. 

Florida middles need more balance without Kramer

Despite the perfect record over the weekend, UF suffered a major blow when Rachael Kramer left the match against USF with an unknown injury. If the Gators are going to be without Kramer long-term, this weekend was a good indication on how the team will compete without her in the matches to follow, beginning with No. 25 Florida State on Tuesday. 

As mentioned earlier, King and Dooley were dynamic offensively against LBSU, with King converting on 15 of her 19 swings.

However, the defense without Kramer was inconsistent. The Gators were dominant defensively against James Madison in its first match without their senior middle blocker, limiting the Dukes to a .080 hitting percentage in a sweep.

But against the Beach, Florida’s defense resembled a rollercoaster. In the two sets that it won, LBSU hit an unreal .471 and .486 percent. Yet, in the two sets that Florida prevailed in before the fifth set, the Beach were held to a measly .029 and .167 hitting percentage. LBSU’s Kashauna Williams amassed 26 kills.

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Part of the reason behind that was that the Gators lost more battles at the net without the 6-foot-8 Kramer. Wise noted that the Gators lost a lot of points off their block. 

“From an offensive standpoint, (King’s) game was flawless,” Wise said. “We’ve had All-American middles that don’t go 15 for 19. We’ve got to get better from the blocking standpoint. We’re just not blocking as many balls as she will in her future.”

Follow Brendan Farrell on Twitter @Bfarrell727. Contact him at bfarrell@alligator.org.

Redshirt junior middle blocker Darrielle King played an integral role in Florida’s sweep weekend at home against South Florida, James Madison and Long Beach State. The 6-foot-3 attacker notched a career-high 15 kills against the Beach and tallied 25 on the weekend. She will be one of Florida’s key players when the team takes on the Seminoles at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. 

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