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Monday, April 22, 2024

No. 21 Gators sweep LSU in three-set victory

Kennedy Martin has secured the most kills from a freshman in 21 games at Florida with 354

Sophomore libero Emily Canaan dives to set the ball in the Gators' 3-0 win against the LSU Tigers on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023.
Sophomore libero Emily Canaan dives to set the ball in the Gators' 3-0 win against the LSU Tigers on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023.

UF junior middle blocker Gabrielle Essix sparked the Gators offense against LSU along with freshman outside hitter Kennedy Martin. The duo held the Tigers with powerful blocks which stopped LSU from making a comeback in the match. 

In the final moments of set three, the dynamic duo delivered the game winning touches. Essix secured multiple defensive saves in set three while Martin found the gaps to seal kills. The 6-foot-6-inch hitter reached and extended her kill across the court. 

LSU was at a loss when the ball reached the back court and was called as in. 

The No. 21 Florida Gators (15-7, 7-6 SEC) defeated the Louisiana State Tigers (10-13, 5-8) 3-0 Friday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. 

Florida found its groove quickly into the game with a kill tipped over the net from senior outside hitter AC Fitzpatrick. A powerful block from Essix denied a kill from the Tigers. 

Essix brought the heat when she shot down a bump from LSU back onto their side of the court. A fierce deep center kill from Martin put the Gators at a slim lead of 9-8. 

Another kill from Fitzpatrick pushed Florida’s lead to 15-11. Essix found a gap to seal a kill which the Tigers failed to save the point with a dive. UF senior outside hitter Sophia Victoria secured a fierce kill to push the Gators within four of match point. 

Victoria clinched set point with a kill and Martin closed the set out with a tip over kill to claim the set victory, 25-17. 

LSU responded to their loss in set one with a three-point lead over Florida early into set two. Fitzpatrick gave the Gators momentum when she answered with a kill to tie the game a five apiece. 

After a grueling back-and-forth battle, Martin found an open gap to seal a kill deep into the Tigers center court. A series of attack errors from LSU allowed Florida to take the lead for the first time in the set and put the Tigers in a four-point deficit, 14-10. 

A court violation from LSU gave Florida the advantage of a 21-19 lead. A dual block from Martin and senior middle blocker Nnedi Okammor held the Tigers at a three-point deficit. 

Florida won set two 25-23 in the final moments with a service ace from Martin in which the Tigers were unable to bump the ball back over the net. 

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The Gators dominated  the Tigers in set three as LSU failed to save point-saving dives. Martin found the reach for a kill and launched the ball across the net. 

UF graduate student setter Kennedy Muff found her way with a kill to push Florida’s lead to 15-8. Martin with her long reach denied a kill from LSU and shot the ball back onto the court. 

Okammor sealed set point with a fierce kill and Martin found the game winning gap to fire up the crowd with a kill. Florida won the match 26-16. 

UF will play Alabama at 5 p.m. Sunday. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+. 

Contact Alyssa Britton-Harr at abritton-harr@alligator.org. 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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