After back-and-forth volleys, Texas A&M freshman Claire Jeter whacked the ball right into the waiting arms of Lauren Dooley and T’ara Ceasar, who slammed it to the Aggies side.
Ceasar’s seven kills led No. 7 UF to defeat Texas A&M Wednesday night 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-20) at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.
Dooley and Ceasar’s block signified a return to normal for the 18-3 Gators. Florida roared through SEC competition in January, February and early March, winning eight of its 10 matches in sweeps. Their record came to a halt this past weekend, when the Gators demanded five sets to beat No. 3 Kentucky Friday before a sweeping defeat Saturday.
UF played its first road game since Feb. 26, and the road blues showed in the first set. The Aggies maintained a lead throughout the first set before Florida embarked on a 5-point run. An attack error and two Thayer Hall kills helped put the Gators ahead by a point.
Four more Aggie attack errors finished off the Aggies, and UF clinched the first set 25-23.
The Gators controlled the second set from the get-go as its ferocious defense held Texas A&M to a 0 hitting percentage. The Aggies inched close late in the frame, but UF triumphed 25-19.
With junior Marlie Monserez serving, Florida grabbed a five-point lead and didn’t relinquish it the remainder of the set. The Gators rattled off four straight points due to four straight Aggie attack errors and conquered the match and set.
It felt like UF visited an all-you-can-eat buffet during the game. But instead of food, it was filled with attack errors. The Aggies rank in the bottom-half of attack errors in the conference, but Wednesday left a black mark on their record as they finished with 26.
Florida didn’t claim any double-doubles because of the Aggies’ feeble attack record. Hall topped Florida with nine kills, followed by seven from Ceasar.
Dooley, who returned to her home state, concluded with three blocks. Monserez wound up with 29 assists.
“We may not have been as sharp as we would have wanted tonight, but the beauty of this format is we get to lace up tomorrow,” coach Mary Wise said in a release.
The Gators wrap up their season Thursday night from College Station. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and will stream on SEC Network. A win Thursday leaves Florida with only three losses, the lowest since 2017.
Contact Noah Ram at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @Noah_ram1
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.