Thayer Hall raised her hitting percentage from .198 to .250 in 2019. She has struggled through the Gators’ first two matches this season, leaving coach Mary Wise to find a way to replace her production.
Enter redshirt senior Holly Carlton.
She provided a spark when Hall had an off night, finishing the evening with seven kills for a .385 hitting percentage along with four blocks and a service ace.
Carlton was key in Florida’s 3-0 straight-set victory over the Tigers, in Auburn, Alabama Thursday night to complete a two-match sweep, moving its record to 2-0 in the shortened fall 2020 season.
Coming off its shutout win over the Tigers Wednesday night, UF got off to a slow start as Auburn trailed by only three early on (9-6), but it eventually found momentum to take a 20-9 lead. Kills from Florida redshirt senior Darrielle King and Carlton put the first set away, a 25-14 Gators win.
Florida junior T’ara Ceasar was one of the top performers from Wednesday night’s win, and the Georgia transfer had a strong showing once again. She racked up six kills in the first set. Hall added four kills, while junior Marlie Monserez dished out 11 assists.
Auburn didn’t go down without a fight, however. It came out looking like a different team in the second set, gaining the early lead before the Gators tied it at 10. Both teams battled back-and-forth before the Gators initiated a 5-2 run and forced the Tigers to burn a timeout. An Auburn error and another ace from Ceasar polished it off, and UF went into the third set 2-0 after a 25-19 win.
Carlton and senior Paige Hammons were the stars of the second frame, with three kills each.
The third set followed a similar script as the second because Auburn stayed within striking distance the whole frame. Halfway through the third set, the orange and blue pulled ahead 17-12. Then, Hammons on match point crushed a lob pass from Carlton that AU defenders had no chance at, allowing UF to win the match 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-21).
While Ceasar led the team with 12 kills — one more than she finished with last night — she was far from alone. Carlton had her seven kills and Hammons contributed six off the bench.
Ceasar also finished with nine digs, one shy of a double-double, just short of the 10 digs from junior Paula Cerame and freshman Elli McKissock.
The Gators defense was spooky once again, keeping the Tigers from eclipsing a .100 hitting percentage. On offense, they had a .245 hitting percentage, including four players hitting above .300.
With the win tonight, the Gators moved to an astounding 51-2 against Auburn, including 47-1 with coach Mary Wise at the helm. This success isn’t just limited to when the Tigers come to Gainesville: UF moved to 24-2 on the plains all-time.
Contact Noah Ram at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Noah_ram1.