In the third, and potentially final, set, the Tigers were staging a comeback. Florida sat on a comfortable six-point lead, ready for match point, but Missouri refused to back down.
The Tigers strung together three points with two kills and forced an attack error after a dual block struck the Gators down. Their efforts kept Florida at arms length as the score stood at 23-20.
With the match in the balance, UF head coach Mary Wise called her final timeout adamant on winning the set in the final rallies. Freshman outside hitter Kennedy Martin stepped on the court fresh off the break ready to secure the victory.
She shut down Missouri’s fighting efforts with two back-to-back kills, both assisted by her partner-in-crime graduate student setter Kennedy Muff to bring home a clean sweep.
The No. 20 Florida Gators (17-7, 9-6 SEC) defeated the Missouri Tigers (17-10, 9-7 SEC) 3-0 Friday night in Columbia, Missouri. UF has swept its last three matches.
In a back-and-forth first set, both teams exchanged points to tie 11 times. Florida senior middle blocker Nnedi Okammor and outside hitter Sofia Victoria forced an attack error with a strong front-row block to offer the Gators a 7-6 lead.
The lead slipped when the Tigers took control in the next few rallies with a four-point scoring streak to make the score 12-11. Martin’s serve landed inside Missouri’s bounds but remained untouched to mark the Gators’ third service ace of the night.
Tied at 15, Missouri fell prey to the Gators’ nonstop offense to fall behind by three points after Martin’s deep-center kill. UF sophomore libero Emily Canaan hit two service aces to extend Florida’s lead by five, 21-16.
Set one closed with a combined kill from Victoria and senior libero Elli McKissock for the Gators to take the first frame, 25-18.
Missouri capitalized on Florida’s error-filled offense early in set two to stay ahead 7-4. Martin responded with a kill to launch a 5-0 scoring run for the Gators highlighted by three consecutive kills and two Tiger attack errors.
The following ten rallies unfolded in a back and forth as both sides matched each other point for point. UF senior outside hitter AC Fitzpatrick built a slight cushion for the Gators when she hit two kills, both assisted by Muff.
With UF ahead by three points, the Tigers fought back with two fierce kills to slim the set into a one-point game.
But their hopes of a comeback were dashed when a Missouri attack error handed the advantage back to the Gators. Florida seized the opportunity and closed the set on a four-point scoring streak, 25-20.
Florida’s heat plagued Missouri in set three as they opened with a 4-0 scoring run. Okammor shined on both sides with an offensive kill and a defensive front-row block that stifled the Tigers’ attempt to respond.
The Tigers clawed back with an unanswered service ace and a forced attack error on Victoria to make the score 9-7, Missouri trailing. But the Gators responded loud with two Fitzpatrick kills and three landed blocks to keep them up by six.
After a short timeout, junior middle blocker Gabrielle Essix struck with two kills to maintain the Gators’ lead. Fitzpatrick grinded out another deep kill, assisted by Muff who totaled 28 assists in the game.
Martin ended Missouri's comeback efforts with two consecutive kills, closing set three at 25-20 and securing a decisive sweep for the Gators.
The Florida Gators will play the Arkansas Razorbacks, at 4 p.m. Sunday on the road in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The game can be streamed on SEC 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.