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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Rachael Kramer
Rachael Kramer

The Gators’ volleyball team has made it a habit of dominating teams at the bottom of the SEC standings this season. 

That didn’t change Wednesday evening. 

No. 15 Florida, which has swept five of the bottom seven teams at least once this season, had its second sweep of Arkansas this season (25-17, 25-21, 25-16). Middle blocker Rachael Kramer led the Gators with 10 kills on 14 attacks with only one error. 

Florida currently sits in second place in the SEC standings, a game behind No. 14 Kentucky, ahead of its final game of the regular season against Texas A&M. The Aggies received the second-most votes of any unranked team in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. 

UF’s offense had one of its better performances this season on paper, posting a .320 hitting percentage on Wednesday. Seven Florida players registered a kill.

However, it was a tough evening from Florida’s go-to outside hitters in sophomore Thayer Hall and redshirt junior Holly Carlton. The two only logged 10 kills on 33 attacks with seven attack errors for a combined hitting percentage below .100. 

Combine that with middle blocker Lauren Dooley also having a poor night offensively (0 kills and three errors on four attempts), and the Gators (23-4, 14-2 SEC) had to turn to options deeper in the lineup to score points. 

In addition to Kramer, outside hitter Paige Hammons was effective throughout the match, scoring seven kills on 11 swings. Setter Marlie Monserez and middle blocker Darrielle King, who had been benched for much of the season in favor of Dooley, combined for six kills on 11 attempts. 

Most importantly, Hammons, Monserez and King didn’t commit a single error, something that Arkansas (11-17, 5-11 SEC) struggled with throughout the match. The Razorbacks amassed 23 attack errors and 11 from the service line. The shorter Razorbacks were also outblocked 13-5, giving the Gators plenty of free points. 

Arkansas actually led for much of the first set and held a 14-9 advantage about halfway through the frame. But from there, the Gators outscored the Razorbacks 16-3 to take the set. Arkansas hit negative in the set, thanks to its six attack errors. 

The second set is where the Razorbacks’ mistakes completely killed them. Arkansas totaled 10 attack errors in the frame, partially because of Florida’s six blocks. This was a set that the Razorbacks stayed competitive with the Gators, as they never trailed by more than four points. 

Arkansas’ mistakes were especially important because it couldn’t slow down the Gators’ offense. After a decent performance in the first set, UF hit over .350 in the last two sets. Florida’s offensive dominance was especially evident in the third and final set, when it led by as much as 11 before completing the sweep.

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