Taelor Kellum

Middle blocker Taelor Kellum has registered 25 blocks with only three blocking errors this season.

The No. 11 Florida volleyball team continues its road trip to Tallahassee to play its fourth-consecutive away match against rival Florida State tonight at 6.

The Gators (5-3) won two of their three matches over the weekend in Flagstaff, Arizona, beating California State and Southern Illinois but losing to Northern Arizona in five sets.

“It’s not fun to learn through your losses” right-side hitter and setter Holly Carlton said on Tuesday. “A young team like this, we’re going to have some growing pains this season.”

NAU had 160 swings in the upset with only six balls that were hit out of play. Coach Mary Wise compared it to watching a basketball team that just could not miss.

“Never seen the likes of that,” Wise said. “That’s where women’s volleyball is at this day and age.”

The team will not have much time to recuperate from the cross-country trip before it plays the Seminoles (5-4) and their potent offense.

Wise indicated that the speed and efficiency of the FSU offense will be something to key in on for the midweek match.

Florida State ranks No. 10 in the nation in hitting percentage (.300) thanks to the consistent play of junior outside hitter Payton Caffrey, who leads her team in kills with 127 on an impressive .313 hitting percentage.

Dependable play in front of the net by the middle-blocking duo of junior Rachael Kramer and senior Taelor Kellum will be vital to stop FSU’s offense.

UF saw a resurgence of Kramer’s offensive play at the Lumberjack Invitational. The Phoenix, Arizona, native tallied 38 kills on a .533 hitting percentage over the three matches in front of her friends and family.

“It was just finding a rhythm with the setters,” Kramer said. “It’s a new year, and I just had to find what set works best for me.”

Defensively, Kramer has met expectations, leading her team with 40 blocks on the season. Kramer was a key player in last season’s rivalry match when she recorded 10 kills and five blocks in the sweep at home. UF will lean on both her and Kellum’s defense to slow down Florida State.

Wise spoke Tuesday about how much of a pleasant surprise Kellum has been this season.

The 6-foot-2 middle blocker has registered 25 blocks with only three blocking errors this season along with 56 kills.

“Everything is so brand new with this team,” Wise said. “There are so many positives to celebrate, but we realize we are a work in progress. The theme of this year is growth.”

 

You can follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter @dyrudolph or contact him at drudolph@alligator.org

 

Dylan is a third-year journalism major. He is currently the sports reporter for the University of Florida volleyball team.