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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

No. 4 Florida falls to Texas A&M in second SEC matchup of season

Elli McKissock hit 19 digs in the battle

Senior outside hitter Sofia Victoria spikes the ball in the Gators' 3-2 loss against the Texas A&M Aggies on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.
Senior outside hitter Sofia Victoria spikes the ball in the Gators' 3-2 loss against the Texas A&M Aggies on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023.

Nerves struck the Aggies in the final rally of the match against Florida. The score sat at 14-12, with the Gators trailing.

Florida was desperate to stay alive, and the arena became overjoyed when Texas A&M freshman setter Margot Manning served the ball directly to the net. 

UF stood at 14-13 as they hoped for a chance to still claim the victory down just one point. 

Senior outside hitter Kennedy Martin served the ball, only to be met with a strong Aggies kill. She worked to save the game, but her delayed dig ultimately called the match a loss. 

The No. 4 Florida Gators (10-2, 2-1 SEC) fell to the Texas A&M Aggies (10-3, 2-1 SEC) 3-2 Wednesday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for their second SEC matchup of the season.

Florida kicked off set one with four consecutive kills to quickly claim the lead 4-0. An early Texas A&M timeout offered the Aggies momentum to score the following three kills, but a front row block by Florida graduate student outside hitter Anna Dixon kept UF ahead 8-3. 

The Aggies launched three serves directly toward the net to keep them behind by one. A net violation on the Gators offered Texas A&M its first lead of the set, 17-16. UF senior middle blocker Nnedi Okammor and freshman outside hitter Madi Gravlee's front row block reclaimed the lead, 21-19.

The Aggies stood at set point after Texas A&M freshman opposite hitter Ital Lopuyo sent a kill across the net. Florida senior outside hitter AC Fitzpatrick answered with their own two kills to bring the Gators to set point. 

Fitzpatrick and Dixon clinched the first set victory 26-24 with a final front-row block.  

Texas A&M began set two strong with three service aces in the first five points. The Gators’ self-inflicted service errors plagued them as they trailed closely behind but failed to claim the lead. 

Martin launched a service ace to narrow the scoring deficit to 13-11 but the delayed UF blocks held them back by two. The sets’ later points were a series of kills from both teams to tie the score 23-apiece. 

However, the Gators’ defense couldn’t deflect two Aggies kills and secured the Texas A&M set two victory 25-23 to tie the match 1-1. 

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The Gators struggled to dominate at the start of the third frame. The Texas A&M offense responded to every UF kill with its own to exhaust the team. 

Down 9-6, Aggies head coach Jamie Morrison called a timeout. After the break, Fitzpatrick sent a kill to trigger a three-point offensive streak and put Florida up 12-9. The duo of Fitzpatrick and Dixon struck again for another block assist to force an error. 

The Aggies kept close with the Gators, but once Florida began capitalizing on their errors, Texas A&M never came back. Lopuyo spiked the ball but failed to find a Florida respondent to record another UF point, 22-19. 

Up by two points, 23-21, Martin struck a kill to bring the Gators to match point. In the last rally, Victoria landed a kill across the net after a dig from sophomore libero Emily Canaan to take home the set three victory and match advantage 2-1 for UF. 

Florida’s inability to control the ball at the start of the fourth set cost them an early Texas A&M lead. The Gators’ error-filled offense caught up to them after two consecutive attack errors from Dixon and Victoria left them to trail 6-3. 

Okammor’s kill started a four-point scoring streak and created Florida’s first lead in the set, 11-8. UF maintained its lead throughout the game with solid kills from Fitzpatrick and unanswered service aces from Victoria. 

Texas A&M came back after Florida sent service errors across the court, and Aggies sophomore outside hitter Brooke Jeffrey slammed two kills to reclaim the lead 18-17. Martin hit a kill to bring the set to a tie but her subsequent attack error gave the lead back to the Aggies 21-19. 

Within seconds, the Aggies sat at set point 24-22. Victoria refused to back down and responded with two easy kills to keep the Gators alive. 

The set was tied 24-apiece. The Gators attempted to end the game in four sets but Martin’s service error and Muff’s block error forced a set five as the Aggies claimed the victory 26-24. 

Florida kept its energy up in the final frame to immediately open with two points. The Aggies responded to Victoria’s serve with a delayed dig to tie the set at five. UF led a four-point scoring streak with a service ace from Gators junior defensive specialist Trinity Adams. 

Three attack errors from Okammor and Fitzpatrick sacrificed the Gator lead and tied the game 10-apiece. UF almost took the lead 12-11 but the Aggies challenged an attack error and took the lead for themselves. 

The last moments of the set were a fight as the Gators succumbed to the pressure and fell to the Aggies’ final kill. Texas A&M claimed the set and the match win, despite a Florida challenge, 15-13. 

The Gators will be on the road for their matchup against the South Carolina Gamecocks at 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

Contact Krisha Sanghavi at Follow her on Twitter @krishasang.

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Krisha Sanghavi

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.

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