Fans in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center rose to their feet, a Gators sweep within reach. Sophomore outside hitter Sofia Victoria dribbled and served the ball, initiating a match-point rally. Senior setter Marlie Monserez delivered a clean pass to redshirt senior outside hitter T’ara Ceasar, who rocketed the ball toward the court to secure a straight-set victory.
Monserez’ 38 assists helped the No. 14 Gators volleyball team (5-4) sweep the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-3) 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-15), its first shutout since Aug. 28 against Sacramento State.
Florida’s offense wasted no time in the opening set. Back-to-back kills and a Ceasar ace, a Monserez kill, and a block from Monserez and middle blocker Gabrielle Essix gave the Gators an early 5-1 lead.
Coastal Carolina was quick to close the gap and surge ahead. A kill by Chanticleers’ outside hitter Ani Bozdeva gave Coastal Carolina the lead for the first time in the set, 10-9. Both teams kept the score within three, with neither side grabbing control of the frame.
Florida reclaimed the advantage but called its first timeout after an attack error by outside hitter Thayer Hall left Coastal Carolina within a point of its 20-19 lead. An Essix kill and a Ceasar ace put the Gators up 23-21, and even a Coastal Carolina timeout wasn’t enough to stop Florida’s momentum. A kill from middle blocker Lauren Dooley secured the first set in the Gators' favor, 25-22.
It was a seesaw start to the second set. The Gators went on a four-point scoring run after a pair of errors from the Chanticleers, a Hall ace and a Ceasar kill to make it 14-10.
Coastal Carolina called a timeout in an attempt to extinguish Florida’s flame, but to no avail. Kills from Ceasar, Monserez, Victoria and Hall helped Florida maintain a seven-point lead at 20-13. Hall halted a last-ditch effort from the Chanticleers when she slammed down a kill to secure the second set for Florida.
Florida drew momentum from its previous set victories in the third. Two Victoria kills, a Monserez kill and an ace by defensive specialist Trinity Adams pushed Florida to a 7-3 lead.
However, the Chanticleers fought back and diminished the Gators' set advantage after a kill by outside hitter Doris Carter tied it at 11 apiece.
Florida never let Coastal Carolina snatch the lead. The Gators went on a four-point scoring run at the end of the set, with a Ceasar kill ending the third 25-15.
“We all know that we’re all powerful players on our team,” Ceasar said. “I think the one thing that we also have that a lot of people may not see all the time is that we’re a very creative team when it comes to our shots.”
Victoria led the Gator’s offense yet again with a team-high 14 kills during the match. Ceasar also proved her prowess with 13 kills and a .417 hitting percentage.
“I thought the player’s response was terrific,” Wise said about the team’s first win since Sept. 5. “Not just in this match but in their focus and their work ethic the past two days.”
The Gators and Chanticleers meet again Sunday at 1 p.m. in the O’Dome in hopes of consecutive match wins. Stream the match on SEC Network+.
Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @kwadulack.