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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Florida sweeps San Francisco to open 2021 season

The Gators repeat history and shut down the Dons in their first match of the Hornet Invitational

Florida's Thayer Hall spikes a ball against LSU in 2019. Hall and the Gators won their season-opening match against San Francisco Friday night in part of the Hornet Invitational.
Florida's Thayer Hall spikes a ball against LSU in 2019. Hall and the Gators won their season-opening match against San Francisco Friday night in part of the Hornet Invitational.

It was like 1995 all over again.  

Florida swept San Francisco 3-0 (25-10, 25-12, 25-12) in its first match of the Hornet Invitational. The Gators flustered the Dons with a 0.491 hitting percentage, 35 kills, and only seven attack errors, while the Dons finished with a -0.041 hitting percentage, 18 kills, and 21 attack errors overall. 

The Gators offense came in hot in the first set starting the match with  a 7-0 run after kills by senior Thayer Hall (2), freshman Merritt Beason (1), redshirt senior T’ara Ceasar (3) and senior Marlie Monserez (1). Florida appeared unstoppable and won the first set 25-10 after a service error by the Dons’ freshman Shyia Richardson. Ceasar led UF’s team with five kills in just the first set and continued to lead the Gators to victory the rest of the night.

The second set took Florida a little bit of time to get into its groove as San Francisco's offense proved more of a challenge. The Dons tied the set for the first time in the match after a kill by Richardson made it 1-1. 

San Francisco tried to keep the score close, but Ceasar’s kill at 5-2 gave Florida momentum. The Gators were on a roll, and a Monserez kill ended the second set, 25-12. 

Errors were the Dons kryptonite in the third set. San Francisco kept giving up easy points to the Gators and ended the match with 21 total attack errors and eight service errors. 

It was an exciting debut for Beason as she recorded the second-most kills of the game with eight, only one behind Ceasar. The set concluded 25-12 after a Ceasar ace cemented the Gators’ first win of the season. 

Six Gators ended the match with hitting percentages over 0.400, including a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage from sophomore Nnedi Okammor. Ceasar (0.400), Beason (0.667), Lauren Forte (0.500), Hall (0.667) and Monserez (0.800) all reached or exceeded the benchmark as well. 

The Gators matchup next against UC Davis Saturday at 1 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+ where head coach Mary Wise will vy for her 900th win at Florida . 

Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at kwadulack@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @kwadulack.

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