Florida found themselves at match point in the second set 24-17.
Gator sophomore setter Alexis Stucky served the ball ready to claim the victory. But the Eagles refused to back down.
Winthrop senior middle blocker Brookelynn Thomas launched a kill to narrow the scoring deficit. The Gators had a second chance to end the set, but Winthrop responded with a service ace. Thomas delivered another kill and brought the score to 24-19.
The Eagles weren’t far behind now.
But Florida freshman outside hitter Kennedy Martin was upset. Eagles freshman defensive specialist Alyah Cadavid served, and Martin jumped to slam a kill across the net.
Martin secured the set two win, 25-19.
The Florida Gators (7-0) closed out the Gators Invitational against the Winthrop Eagles (0-9) Saturday afternoon. UF quickly swept the visitors 3-0 in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The Gators capitalized on the Eagles errors and flew through set one. In the early moments of the game, Martin launched a kill to make the score 8-3.
UF junior defensive specialist Trinity Adams sent two consecutive service aces amidst a seven-point scoring streak to push the Gators’ lead to 15-8.
An attack error by Florida sophomore middle blocker Amaya Thomas handed the Eagles a few points but not enough to secure the win. The Gators brought home the first set win 25-12.
The Eagles put up a fight in set two despite UF’s advantage. Adams hit straight to the net and an attack error by Florida senior middle blocker Nnedi Okammor handed Winthrop their first lead in the match, 2-0.
A series of kills by UF senior outside hitter AC Fitzpatrick and graduate student outside hitter Anna Dixon reclaimed the Florida lead 4-2. But the Gators’ service and attack errors kept the Eagles close behind.
Martin and Dixon sent two attack errors back-to-back to hold the score 16-14. Florida senior outside hitter Sofia Victoria’s kill triggered a three-point scoring streak and brought Florida to match point 16-24.
After three unsuccessful attempts to close out the set, Martin’s kill finalized the set win.
Fitzpatrick’s powerful kill started set three strong, but Winthrop answered with their own number of kills to keep the set tied 5 apiece.
Victoria’s kill, rekindled the Gators momentum and secured a lead for the remainder of the game. Winthrop’s block errors proved costly as they trailed the whole set, but their strong kills helped add some points to the board.
Stucky served a service ace, and Fitzpatrick sent another kill to extend their lead 21-15. The final moments of the game were dictated by Florida’s five-point streak to close the set 25-15 and clinched the victory.
The Florida Gators will play their age-old rival the Florida State Seminoles Tuesday 6 p.m. in Tallahassee. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.
Contact Krisha Sanghavi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @krishasang.
Krisha Sanghavi is a third-year public relations and economics major. In her free time, she loves cheering on Miami sports teams and spending time with her friends.