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Friday, April 16, 2021

Florida escapes trouble in first and second set, sweeps Tennessee

The straight-set win was UF’s seventh win a row.

<p>Now-junior Marlie Monserez sets for the Gators at last year&#x27;s home match versus Kentucky. The setter reached a career-high in kills Friday against Tennessee</p>

Now-junior Marlie Monserez sets for the Gators at last year's home match versus Kentucky. The setter reached a career-high in kills Friday against Tennessee

Gators settler Marlie Monserez is usually known for one skill on the UF volleyball team: assists.

The junior often acts like a point guard in basketball, dishing out dimes to outside hitters like Thayer Hall and T’ara Ceasar.

This season, Monserez has totaled 453 assists, almost 400 more than second-place Holly Carlton.

But in Friday’s win over Tennessee, the junior dominated above the net.

Monserez bagged a career-high seven kills, including one that clinched the first set, in Florida’s 3-0 win over Tennessee (25-23, 29-27, 25-16). The victory secured a seventh-straight win and a sweep of UT for the No. 8 Gators, which improved their record to 12-2.

In Thursday’s match, Tennessee struggled to stay competitive as the Gators took each set by at least four points. On Friday, however, the Volunteers came out blazing. They led 6-3 in the first set thanks to two kills from junior Lily Felts.

Florida eventually righted the ship and took a 9-7 lead, but UT continued to remain cutthroat. The two teams traded points before Monserez clinched the set off a Volunteer serve.

The second set mirrored “Freaky Friday,” as this time Florida started the period red hot. The Gators controlled an 8-2 lead due partially to three Tennessee attack errors. The Vols turned it around, however, and stole 14 of the next 21 points to take a 16-15 lead.

The set then continued to see-saw, as each side went back and forth before UF took a 24-21 advantage. With a 2-0 deficit staring it down, UT scored the next four points, putting them on the verge of victory.

However, the set ended like it began, with Tennessee attack errors. It committed three of them down the stretch, and Florida took the set 29-27.

In the third set, the Gators were in no mood to mess around. They held all the momentum and rolled to a 25-16 win. The Vols never led in the third and hit an atrocious .025% in the frame. For the match, UT was held to .157%, while UF finished at .263%.

Despite Monserez’s career day, she finished fourth on the squad in kills, behind Ceasar (12), Hall (11) and middle blocker Lauren Forte (8). Forte’s eight kills were a season-high.

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In the back, freshman libero Elli Mckissock ended with 19 digs, her fourth-highest total this season. Monserez and Ceasar both captured their fifth double-doubles on the season. Monserez had 36 assists and 12 digs, while Ceasar closed with 12 kills and 10 digs. It was each their fifth of the season.

“This was a match where we had to grind it out,” coach Mary Wise said in a release. “Kills were hard to come by due to Tennessee’s defense”

Florida improved to 53-13 all-time against Tennessee, including 25-5 in Knoxville.

 Contact Noah Ram at Follow him on Twitter @Noah_ram1

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Noah Ram

Noah is a third year journalism-sports and media student from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He has been with The Alligator since Spring 2019 and has covered men’s and women’s tennis, gymnastics and volleyball. When he isn’t on his beat, Noah is usually sadden over his beloved South Florida sports teams, such as the Heat and Dolphins.

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