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Sunday, February 05, 2023
Paige Hammons
Paige Hammons

Sophomore Thayer Hall took her position behind the service line, bounced the ball a few times and served. 

It was redshirt junior Holly Carlton that ended up earning the point for the Gators and sent Hall back to the service line. Hall repeated this process eight more times as Florida continued to score at will against LSU in the third set, including two aces from UF’s star outside hitter. 

The Gators were up 17-7 by the time the run came to a close and virtually signaled another victory for Florida. 

UF swept LSU (25-20, 25-19, 25-18) for the second time this season on Friday night at the O’Connell Center and won its 10th match in a row. Florida also swept an SEC opponent for the seventh time this season and for the fifth time during the streak. 

Three Gators had double-digit kills despite the match being only three sets long. Paige Hammons had 13 for her eighth match this season with at least 10 kills. Carlton had 11 on just 16 swings on Friday as well. 

“Everybody brings their best shot whenever they’re playing the Gators,” libero Allie Gregory said. “LSU’s had some great wins this season, so we wanted to bring our best shot to LSU, and I thought we executed that tonight.”

The Gators (21-3, 12-1 SEC) and LSU (13-11, 7-7 SEC) were tied at eight in the first set when Florida went on a 9-3 run that gave them control of the set. The Tigers only had seven kills in the frame, but the Gators’ eight attack errors kept them it competitive. 

LSU responded in the second set with a quick 4-1 start, but it was downhill from there for the Tigers. The Gators tallied five consecutive points and 10 of the next 13 to take an 11-7 lead. From there, Florida rode an offense that converted on half of its attempts in the frame to a 25-19 win. UF led by as much as seven in the set, and a late LSU run made the final score seem closer than it was. 

LSU had nothing left to offer in the third set. It was only 9-6 when the Gators went on the aforementioned 9-0 run to put the match away. The Tigers managed to whittle the gap down to just three points late in the set, but Florida pulled away again to complete the sweep.  

The Gators didn’t have their best defensive performance, as LSU hit .244 for the match, but an explosive offense that hit .387 was enough to make up for any defensive lapses. And after the first set where Florida had eight attack errors, it committed just six for the rest of the match. 

Kentucky awaits the Gators on Sunday. The Wildcats gave UF its only loss in SEC play, and Sunday’s match will likely decide who wins the SEC regular-season title. 

“Obviously, that match has been in the back of our heads for a while now,” Hammons said. “We’re trying to win the SEC outright, and I think it’s going to be a huge game, I think we’re ready for it.”

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