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Saturday, February 27, 2021

No. 9 Florida looks to ride momentum against Mississippi State

The Gators have won five straight matches and will look to add to that total in Starkville

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-e0d8d321-7fff-2671-4fb9-a114c4dab3d8"><span>Setter Marlie Monserez has followed in her sisters' footsteps in becoming a leader for UF's volleyball team.</span></span></p>

Setter Marlie Monserez has followed in her sisters' footsteps in becoming a leader for UF's volleyball team.

Domination.

That’s the only way to describe Florida volleyball’s history with Mississippi State. The Gators have never dropped a match to the Bulldogs in their 52 meetings. 

In fact, they have only lost four sets since their first matchup in 1984. The last time Mississippi State won a set against UF was 2010, and no matchup between the two squads has ever gone to five sets.

Now, the No. 9 Gators will look to write another chapter in their historically dominant series against the Bulldogs, as they have two matches set in Starkville Friday and Saturday.

Florida (10-2) outclasses Mississippi State (4-8) in just about every statistical category this season. Florida’s .278 offensive hitting percentage is 24th in the country, while MS State’s is 145th (.186).  They also best the Bulldogs in kill, dig, block and assist ratios.

Individually, T’ara Ceasar will look to continue her hot streak. The redshirt junior was awarded SEC Offensive Player of the Week Feb. 15 for her performances against the LSU Tigers. Ceasar had a season high 20 kills in the second match against LSU and brought her total to 166, which places her at 39th nationwide.

Caesar wasn’t the only Gator who showed out against the Tigers. Freshman Elli McKissock was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week Feb. 15. The 5-foot-7-inch defender averaged a rock-solid 6.57 digs across the two matches, almost doubling her average from the rest of the season (3.58). In the first of the two matches Feb. 10, McKissock recorded 24 digs, the third-highest total in a three-set match in Florida history.

Overall, the Gators have been a brick wall defensively, averaging an SEC-leading 2.6 blocks per set. Half of those come from Lauren Dooley. The junior leads the SEC in blocks per set at 1.38. That stifling defense comes up against an anemic Bulldog offense that averages just 11.77 kills per set, which placed them at  175th in the country.

The Gators should use this weekend to get it right after having a sloppy outing in their second match against LSU. Their performance led them to drop a set against the Tigers for the first time since 2014. It’s crucial Florida puts those errors to rest and shows the LSU game was an off night.

First serve will be Friday at 7 p.m.

Contact Michael Hull at mhull@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33



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