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No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein remained cool, calm, and collected despite a two-point deficit to Arkansas. Photo from UF-Texas A&M match Feb. 28.
No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein remained cool, calm, and collected despite a two-point deficit to Arkansas. Photo from UF-Texas A&M match Feb. 28.

When the month of March comes around and color returns to the trees, some people feel inspired to organize their homes for spring cleaning.

On Sunday afternoon, the Gators busted the broomsticks out of the closet for a deep clean of their own. Both the men’s and women’s teams swept away their opponents after huge performances from both rosters.

Women’s: No. 29 Florida mercies No. 20 Arkansas 4-0

At the start of doubles play, Florida found itself falling behind Arkansas’ trail on all three courts. But the Gators didn’t seem unsettled and played on as the score stayed at 0-0. 

No. 26 McCartney Kessler and Marlee Zein remained cool, calm, and collected despite a two-point deficit to Arkansas’ Lauren Alter and Tatum Rice after the first couple of rallies. When Arkansas earned the second point, Zein and Kessler held a brief sideline meeting to re-strategize the game plan.

Throughout the match, Kessler and Zein found ways to subtly set each other up for kill shots and mount the comeback. Alter and Rice tried to counter the well-performed strategy but fell to Zein and Kessler’s win streak.

The main three courts ended up unfinished due to two-set wrap-ups from No. 65 Layne Sleeth, freshman Sara Dahlstrom, and junior Sydney Berlin. Since Florida clinched the doubles point, the three single wins increased the final score to complete the sweep.  

The all-time series between the programs improves to 32-1 with the Gators well ahead of the count.

Florida will rest up for an extra week before its next bout at Mississippi State on March 25.

Men’s: No. 7 Florida sweeps No. 24 Miss State 7-0

The men’s team goal was to hold nothing back and stomp on the Bulldogs until the very end. Florida clinched all matches except captain Duarte Vale’s three-setter against No. 87 Florian Broska by a large margin. 

Vale fell behind after the first set but quickly found his groove in the second to maintain a steady lead. Broska kept the score close to Vale but couldn’t gain another lead in the remainder of the battle.

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Florida’s roster will ride from  Mississippi State with big smiles. No. 68 Blaise Bicknell, however, must feel like he’s on top of the world after extending his 10-match singles streak. Captain Sam Riffice, freshman Ben Shelton, senior Andy Andrade, and Vale all added to their personal streak, tool.

Florida improves its overall season record to 11-1 and remains perfect against SEC teams. Since starting its nine-game streak, UF only dropped nine points in nine matches for a combined 54-9 mark in that span.

The Gators will rest Monday before heading into a tough matchup with the No. 5 TCU Horned Frogs Wednesday night. 

Contact Jesse Richardson at jrichardson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @JesseRich352



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