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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Gators look to bounce back against Aggies

Florida will attempt to close out the regular season with wins in College Station

<p>UF looks to bounce back from a loss to Kentucky from Texas A&amp;M Wednesday</p>

UF looks to bounce back from a loss to Kentucky from Texas A&M Wednesday

The Gators now look to do something they haven’t done since November: bounce back.

Florida lost in straight sets to Kentucky and suffered its first defeat since Nov. 20 against Georgia. Now, the Gators need to put that behind them as they travel to College Station, Texas, to battle with the Texas A&M Aggies.

Historically, Florida owns this matchup. The team claims a 17-1 all time record against Texas A&M, including 15-1 under head coach Mary Wise. These two squads last battled in 2019 when Florida clinched its 24th SEC Championship with a five-set victory.

The Aggies struggled this season and float just above .500 in terms of record at 9-7. They lost three straight matches to Georgia and Missouri. However, those were all road matches. 

Now, Texas A&M will have the power of the 12th man behind them as the Gators come to town. This marks Florida’s first road trip in nearly a month. The team last traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee, to battle with the Volunteers Feb. 25 and 26.

Texas A&M’s strength lies in its defense. The Aggies allow the third-best hitting percentage (.189) in the SEC and trail only Florida and Kentucky. The team boasts the sixth-most blocks in the conference with 2.12 per set and  the most digs per set at 15.52. 

Individually, the dynamic duo of junior London Austin-Roark and sophomore Morgan Davis leads the Aggies. The pairing maintains  the second and third best hitting percentages in the SEC, .480 and .459, respectively. These numbers trail only Florida junior Lauren Forte, who boasts an impressive .500 hitting percentage. 

Morgan Christon plays a large role in the Aggies’ mediocre offensive attack. The sophomore averages 3.59 kills per set and .32 aces per set, both good for ninth in the conference. 

However, as a team, Texas A&M’s mediocrity shows on the offensive side of the floor. The team puts up 12.86 kills per set, which is the sixth most in the SEC. 

Similar to their opponent, Florida prides itself on its defense. The Gators average the most blocks per set (2.71) and the second-best opponent hitting percentage (.171) in the conference. 

Unlike their opponent, the Gators enjoy an elite offense. Spearheaded by junior T’ara Ceasar, Florida averages the second-most kills per set (13.77), the second-most assists per set (12.94) and second-best hitting percentage (.288).

Caesar is Florida’s main weapon. The Panama City, Florida, native strikes down four kills per set, the fifth most in the conference. 

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The Gators also retain a deep lineup, with stars like Forte, freshman Elli McKissock, redshirt senior Holly Carlton, junior Marlie Monserez and junior Thayer Hall. 

Both the Wednesday and Thursday matches will begin at 7 p.m. They will broadcast  on SEC Network+.

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

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