Thayer Hall

Thayer Hall spikes the ball in the Gators game versus LSU last season. She and T'ara Ceasar led Florida in kills Saturday afternoon in their win over Alabama. 

Junior Haley Warner didn’t see the court on Friday night when the Gators defeated Alabama 3-0. Coach Mary Wise called her name late in the first set on Saturday with Florida nursing a narrow 20-19 lead. 

The outside hitter registered a block and had the set-winning kill. 

Warner’s clutch performance continued in the next frame when she scored the set-winning point.  

Her five total kills and a block helped UF sweep Alabama one more time at the O’Connell Center (25-21, 25-17, 25- 22). 

Junior setter Marlie Monserez said Warner’s work ethic was a big factor for why she had success today. 

“Mary Wise is just super adamant about everyone being prepared,” she said. “She did really awesome off the bench.”

No. 4 Florida jumped out to a 7-3 lead early in the first set, forcing the Tide to call an early timeout. Alabama then regrouped and tied the first set at 13 apiece. 

After, the Gators went on a 5-1 run to take a four-point lead at 18-14. Alabama responded with its own 4-1 run to cut Florida’s lead to 19-18. 

The Gators’ defense was daunting in the first frame, carrying them to a 25-21 first-set victory.. They blocked eight of Alabama’s attacks, with freshman middle blocker Nnedi Okammor racking up five.

Redshirt junior outside hitter T’ara Ceasar led the team offensively, adding seven kills for a .385 hitting percentage. She was the only bright spot as the team in this aspect of the game, as it only hit .068 in the set.. 

In the second set, both teams traded the lead back and forth. Florida eventually seized it 15-11 behind a five-point service run from freshman defensive specialist Eli McKissock. 

McKissock’s spark from the service line ignited a 9-2 Florida run to command a 19-12 lead. The tandem of junior middle blocker Lauren Dooley and setter Marlie Monserez at the net blocked three swings from the Crimson Tide during UF’s run. 

Florida hit the ball better in the second set at .394, helping it secure the second set 25-17. 

After Alabama tied the third set at three apiece, the Gators scored three-straight points to lead 6-3. The Crimson Tide didn’t shrink Florida’s lead any farther, as UFstretched its lead to six at 21-15.

However, the Tide made a last-ditch effort, though, scoring three-straight points to narrow UF’s lead to 23-22. Ceasar and Monserez halted Alabama’s attempt to force a fourth set. Florida took the third set 25-22, clinching the match 3-0.

Like Friday night, Ceasar and Hall led the Gators in kills, netting 15 and 11, respectively. The Gators defense totaled a career-high in a three-set match with 19.5 blocks. 

Dooley led Florida with 10, and she added that the team placed an added emphasis on blocking after Friday night. 

“Today before the match we got together and had a set of goals that we wanted to accomplish,” she said. “We know that Friday wasn’t our best day, but we had a better mindset today.”

Monserez was a block and two digs away from a triple-double, but she dished out 28 assists. She helped Florida achieve a .233 overall hitting percentage. 

Finally, Wise praised her defense for their lights-out performance. 

“Our blocking on a night when the offense wasn’t clicking and didn’t come easy,” she said. “Our defense carried us, and good teams will find a way.”

Contact Zachary Huber at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @zacharyahuber.

Zachary Huber covers men's tennis for the Alligator. This is his first semester working for The Alligator. He's a junior studying journalism at UF.