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Saturday, May 25, 2024

No. 20 Gators fall to No. 10 Arkansas in five-set battle

Fitzpatrick led the game in kills with 19

Two Gators volleyball players attempt to block the ball in Florida's 3-0 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.
Two Gators volleyball players attempt to block the ball in Florida's 3-0 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.

In set four, UF senior outside hitter AC Fitzpatrick launched a kill across the backcourt, which the Razorbacks failed to make the dive. 

Fitzpatrick’s kill allowed the Gators to tie the sets and allow Florida to have a chance at taking the match win in set five. 

However, Arkansas managed to win the match after Florida had the initial lead due to several UF attack errors. 

The No. 20 Florida Gators (17-8, 9-8 SEC) were defeated by the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks (24-4, 14-2 SEC) 3-2 Sunday afternoon on the road in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Razorbacks sealed a kill in the opening frame to take the initial lead, but Gators freshman outside hitter Kennedy Martin found an open gap for a kill. Martin’s kill triggered two more from senior outside hitter Sophia Victoria and junior middle blocker Gabrielle Essix for Florida to take the lead 3-2.   

A series of service errors from Florida allowed Arkansas to gain a four-point streak and retake its lead. UF senior outside hitter AC Fitzpatrick continued to fuel the Gators momentum with a kill assisted by graduate student setter Kennedy Muff to bring Florida’s score within three of the Razorbacks, 10-7.

Senior libero Elli McKissock fell to the ground in an effort to save a point-saving dive and failed to bump the ball to keep the game alive. However, Razorback attack errors pushed the Gators score and allowed them to regain their slim 15-14 lead halfway through the first set. 

Arkansas responded to Florida’s lead with a three-point streak, which included two consecutive kills from senior outside hitter Taylor Head. A shaken up Gators defense couldn’t keep up with the Razorbacks intensity, as the ball continued to find its way on the floor. 

 A net violation from UF senior middle blocker Nnedi Okammor in an effort to block a kill from Arkansas graduate student outside hitter Jillian Gillen allowed the Razorbacks to reach set point. 

Arkansas graduate student outside hitter Maggie Cartwright then closed out the first set with a fierce kill off a Gators serve, 25-20.

Florida failed to respond to its loss in set one, as Arkansas refused to allow the Gators to regain a lead. Back-to-back kills from Head put the Razorbacks on a three-point scoring streak. 

Martin and Fitzpatrick brought the Gators back to life with kills to push UF’s score to 10-9. Florida continued to find its reach within one after a dual block from Martin and Essix forced an attack error for Head.  

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Fitzpatrick continued to bring the heat with her seventh kill of the match. Martin then tied the game at 18 apiece to keep the game within a tight range. 

A dual block from Victoria and Okammor, Florida’s sixth block of the match, allowed the Gators to take advantage and take the lead for the first time in set two, 21-20. 

In the final moments of set two, an attack error from Cartwright to save the ball was challenged by the Gators as it seemed that the ball had hit the ground before she bumped it back into the air. 

A service ace from UF junior designated setter Trinity Adams allowed Florida to reach set point, and a kill from Martin secured a victory for the Gators in set two, 25-21. 

Arkansas fought back from its set two loss with a quick 6-4 lead. Fitzpatrick sealed two kills to put the Gators in the lead 9-8. Two consecutive kills from Victoria and a powerful dual block from Essix and Victoria helped the Gators find their groove. 

The Razorbacks answered on a three-point scoring streak to retake a slim 15-14 lead. Essix and graduate student setter Kennedy Muff both sealed kills to push Florida’s score, but an aggressive Arkansas offense held UF to a three-point deficit. 

A kill from Gillen set match point for Arkansas and a bad set from Muff allowed the Razorbacks to win set three, 25-20. 

Florida took an early lead with a kill from Fitzpatrick and a series of service errors from Arkansas. A kill from Muff, however, gave UF a slim 10-9 lead. Block assists from Martin and Okammor rejected Gillen’s effort for a kill, and put the Razorbacks in a four-point deficit. 

Victoria launched a kill across the court and the ball headed out of bounds, but an Arkansas touch secured the point for Florida, 17-12. A kill from Martin sealed set point for the Gators and a fierce kill from Fitzpatrick won set four for Florida, 25-19. 

Arkansas took the first point of set five with a kill from Gillen, but the Gators quickly worked their way in with kills from Essix and Fitzpatrick. Service errors from both teams tied the game at five apiece. 

Martin sealed a kill to push Florida’s score to 8-7. Fitzpatrick and Martin both launched kills to tie the game at 11 apiece in the final moments of set five. Arkansas, however, sealed the set point off a kill from Cartwright. An attack error from Martin allowed the Razorbacks to win set five and the match, 15-11.  

UF will play the South Carolina Gamecocks at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr at Follow her on Twitter @abrittonharr.

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Alyssa Britton-Harr

Alyssa Britton-Harr is a second-year journalism major and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In her free time, she enjoys cheering on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spending time with her friends. 

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