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Saturday, January 28, 2023

No. 20 Florida heads back to Gainesville to take on Auburn

The Gators begin a three-match home stretch Wednesday against Auburn

Florida's Lauren Dooley during a match against Texas A&M on Oct. 16.
Florida's Lauren Dooley during a match against Texas A&M on Oct. 16.

The Gators volleyball team returns to the O’Connell Center Wednesday for a midweek matchup against the Auburn Tigers. 

No. 20 Florida (17-6, 11-2 SEC) moved up two spots in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association poll after a series sweep over the Arkansas Razorbacks Friday and Saturday. Outside hitter T’ara Ceasar was the Gator’s not-so-secret weapon in both wins, averaging five kills and 3.25 digs per set and a .420 hitting percentage. 

In Friday’s match, the redshirt senior dished out 17 kills with only a single attack error on the night to boast a career-high .552 hitting percentage in the sweep(25-12, 25-19, 25-20). Ceasar continued to excel in Saturday’s 3-2 (16-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 16-14) victory, recording 23 kills along with a career-high 21 digs, her 10th double-double of the year. 

Ceasar’s weekend performance earned her SEC Overall Player of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week. Additionally, the Panama City, Florida, native was named this week’s Sports Imports/AVCA Division I Player of the Week Tuesday afternoon

The Auburn Tigers (13-11, 5-9 SEC) head to Gainesville after being swept by South Carolina 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-22) Wednesday. Middle blocker Tatum Shipes proved to be the Tigers’ most efficient hitter in the match, with seven kills on nine swings and only one error to secure a .667 hitting percentage. 

Florida holds a 51-2 all-time advantage over Auburn. The Gators have never lost to the Tigers at home, slating a 25-0 record. In their last matchup, UF swept the Tigers (25-14, 25-19, 25-21) in Auburn, Alabama. The last time Auburn beat the Gators was in a five-setter on Nov. 8, 2015. 

The first 200 fans who arrive at Wednesday’s match will receive a Block Party Tailgate apron and can participate in the free student tailgate inside the main lobby, which will feature free food, games and prizes. Fans can also gain free general admission to home matches during the month of November by bringing non-perishable food items to donate at the O’Dome’s ticket office windows.

The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. in the O’Dome and can be streamed on SEC Network+. 

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

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