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Saturday, January 28, 2023

No. 23 Florida returns for a home match against No. 22 Tennessee

The Gators host the Lady Vols in Thursday’s Top-25 matchup

Florida volleyball's Merritt Beason (13) and Lauren Forte (24) go up for a block in a game against Texas A&M on Oct. 16.
Florida volleyball's Merritt Beason (13) and Lauren Forte (24) go up for a block in a game against Texas A&M on Oct. 16.

It’s a Top-25 showdown in Gainesville this weekend as the No. 23 Gators volleyball team (14-6, 8-2 SEC) is set to host the No. 22 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (16-5, 8-3 SEC) in the O’Connell Center Thursday at 7 p.m. 

The Gators are riding a three-match sweep streak after defeating Missouri 3-0 (25-10, 25-23, 25-22) on Saturday. Outside hitters T’ara Ceasar and Thayer Hall led Florida with 13 kills apiece, along with 32 assists served up by setter Marlie Monserez in the match. Monserez has 771 assists so far this season.  

Florida’s .354 hitting percentage towered .219 over Mizzou’s, in part because of the Gators’ 10 blocks on the night. Middle blocker Bre Kelley tied her career-high with six of her own. Four Gators hit over .300 against Mizzou: Monserez (.750), Ceasar (.440), middle blocker Lauren Forte (.357) and Hall (.333). 

Tennessee enters Thursday’s match on a two-game losing streak. The No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats swept the Lady Vols 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-19) on Wednesday. Tennessee outside hitter Breana Runnels led the team with 12 kills in the match, followed closely by right-side hitter Morgahn Fingall with 11.

In their last matchup, Florida swept Tennessee 3-0 (25-23, 29-27, 25-16) in Knoxville on Feb. 26. The Gators have a 53-13 program record over the Lady Vols. Tennessee last beat Florida on Nov. 21, 2018, 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-21) in Knoxville. 

The first serve of Thursday’s match is set for 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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