The Gators volleyball team sought redemption on their home court Saturday night. Instead, they were met with defeat.
Even with outside hitter T’ara Ceasar leading the Gators’ offense with 19 total kills, Baylor swept the Gators 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-16) to give Florida its third loss in four games Saturday night in the O’Connell Center.
The match began with a moment of silence honoring the lives lost 20 years ago on 9/11. Chomps then echoed in the O’Dome as the Gators rallied up for retribution against the Bears after a four-set loss on Friday night.
Baylor wasn’t satisfied with the one victory, however, and came out of the locker room hungry for another win. The Bears slammed four kills to open the first set on a five-point run: two each from outside hitters Yossiana Pressley and Lauren Harrison.
The Gators snuck onto the board after a Ceasar kill to make it 5-1, and Florida dug deep in the middle of the set. A Pressley service error and back-to-back Ceasar kills moved the Gators within a point of Baylor to make it 14-13. The Gators never grew closer, however, trailing the entire set. The Gators fell short to Baylor’s offense, 25-19, for an opening-set loss.
Florida took the second set’s first point after outside hitter Thayer Hall struck with another kill, but the Bears kept the score close. Three Gators kills from Ceasar, middle blocker Lauren Dooley and outside hitter Merritt Beason allowed Florida to reclaim the lead, 7-4.
A four-point scoring run by Baylor led Florida to call its first timeout, now trailing 11-9. The Gators offense rose to the occasion, tying the set right back up at 12-12 with two Ceasar kills and blocks from senior setter Marlie Monserez and freshman middle blocker Bre Kelley.
That didn’t stop Baylor. The Bears lit a fire under themselves and closed the set on a 13-6 run to secure the set 25-18.
Baylor was unstoppable entering the third set, a sweep now within sight. The Bears went on a 7-3 run to open before Florida called its first timeout in an attempt to try and stop their momentum. The Gators crept up the ladder with offensive strikes but never grew close enough to trim the scoring gap. Baylor became a brick wall for Florida’s offense, denying kills left and right to lead the Bears to a 25-16 third-set victory and a sweep.
Florida is now 1-3 against ranked opponents in 2021. The Gators ended the match with a .111 hitting percentage and 37 kills, while Baylor finished with a .318 hitting percentage and 39 kills.
The Gators hit the road this week to take on their northern panhandle rival Florida State Wednesday.
Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @kwadulack.