Florida volleyball hit its stride.
UF rattled off seven straight wins and now resides at second in the SEC. It will look to make it a nine-win streak this weekend as the Gators host the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Gators (12-2) claim the No. 8 spot in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll. They advanced up a spot after a week off.
UF has historically owned this matchup and beat the Razorbacks 44 times since their first battle in 1994. They only gave up three matches but boast a 20-0 home record against Arkansas.
Florida defends its home turf well in general and has a .885 winning percentage in Gainesville.
The Gators will attempt to repeat their success last time out on Feb. 25 and 26, when they defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in straight sets. Lauren Dooley led the matchup and averaged 2.17 blocks per set during the two matches.
The junior had a team-high eight blocks in the second match and earned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts.
While Dooley served as defensive leader against the Volunteers, the Gators have dominated on that side of the ball all season. They top the SEC with 126 blocks and average 2.69 blocks per set. No. 3 Kentucky claims the second spot and only averages 2.53 blocks per set for a total of 98.
Dooley wasn’t the only junior to show out against Tennessee. Marlie Monserez earned SEC Setter of the Week for her performances in Rocky Top. She averaged 11.67 assists per set over the course of the weekend, including a 34-assist performance in the first match. As a team, Florida ranks second in the conference in assists and averages 12.83 per set.
The Razorbacks might prove to be Florida’s toughest test since the winning streak began. Arkansas stands at 11-5 on the year and has won five of its last six matches, including wins over LSU and Georgia.
Arkansas’s biggest strength lies on the service line. The team averages an SEC-leading 1.72 aces per set. The Razorbacks also boast a ferocious defense. They average 15.26 digs per set, which trails only Tennessee. They allow an opponent hitting percentage of just .204, good for fourth in the SEC.
Individually, Jillian Gillen leads Arkansas. The sophomore from Kansas claims a team-leading 241 kills and averages 3.95 kills per set. She also tops the team in aces with 29.
Senior Devyn Wheeler also plays a large role in the Razorback attack. Her .374 hitting percentage is fourth in the SEC, and she comes in third on the team in kills with 103.
Both matches begin at 6 p.m. and will air live on SEC Network+.
Contact Michael Hull at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Michael_Hull33
Michael Hull is a fourth-year journalism sports & media major and a sports writer at The Alligator. He hosts the weekly sports podcast and has worked on staff for five semesters. In the past, Hull has served as the sports editor, the men's and women's golf beat writer, the volleyball beat writer and the football beat writer.