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Friday, June 14, 2024
Florida volleyball's Thayer Hall readies for action during a game against Mississippi State on Sept. 24.
Florida volleyball's Thayer Hall readies for action during a game against Mississippi State on Sept. 24.

Ole Miss clung to a 17-16 lead in the third set when something clicked for Florida. 

Outside hitter Merritt Beason knotted the score, igniting a Gators explosion. They would go on to win nine straight points, securing the set and match. 

Sunday’s victory over the Rebels (25-17, 25-13, 25-17) marked Florida volleyball’s third straight sweep as the Gators finished a perfect week without a dropped set. 

Ole Miss middle blocker Payton Brgoch broke open the scoring in the first set with a kill. This would be the last Rebels lead of the opening frame. 

The Gators responded with three consecutive points, a kill from outside hitter Merritt Beason and two attack errors by Ole Miss. 

Florida’s lead extended to six, 17-11 when Rebels head coach Kayla Banwarth called her first timeout to regroup. The Gators picked up two points immediately after the stoppage, but Ole Miss countered with a 5-1 scoring run, dwindling the Florida lead to four. 

Head coach Mary Wise called her first timeout in an effort to stop the bleeding, and it worked. The Gators dominated the rest of the set with a 5-1 run of their own. Beason’s fourth kill of the match sealed the set in favor of Florida, 25-17. 

Set two began with both teams trading blows. Outside hitter Thayer Hall killed home the Gators’ first couple points, but the Rebels hung tough and climbed to an early 3-2 lead. 

Florida broke the set wide open with a seven-point scoring run. The Gators never took their foot off the gas and dominated the rest of the way. Outside hitter T’ara Ceasar lasered home her fifth kill of the match, right into the chin of Ole Miss outside hitter Lauren Thompson. The redshirt senior followed it up with her sixth moments later, closing the set 25-13, the most dominant frame from Florida in either weekend match against the Rebels. 

The third set was extremely tight, with neither team extending a lead beyond three points. Well, until Florida kicked it into gear and went on the commanding run to end the match. 

When asked about how Florida got so hot, Wise credited Hall’s serves. The senior stood behind the line for the last eight points and ended the match with an ace, the team's fifth of the afternoon. 

The Gators laid down 37 kills, totaled 13 blocks, committed only seven attack errors and finished with a .349 hitting percentage. In comparison, Ole Miss ended the match at a .040 clip. 

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Caesar and Beason paced Florida with nine kills each. Setter Malie Monserez accounted for all but two of the Gators’ 34 assists. Middle blocker Lauren Dooley notably notched a perfect hitting percentage with four kills on four attacks. 

“Consistently giving each other feedback and being there for each other I think is what really contributed to today’s win,” Caesar said. 

Florida gets a week off before it heads to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for a two-match series with the LSU Tigers Oct. 9-10. 

Contact Joseph Henry at Follow him on Twitter @Josephhenry2424.

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Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry is a fourth-year sports journalism major and is the Alligator's sports editor. He previously worked as senior news director, assistant sports editor, men's basketball beat reporter, volleyball beat reporter and golf beat reporter. He enjoys sitting down to watch a movie as often as possible, collecting vinyl and drinking Dr. Pepper. 

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