Fall Sports

VB: Gators show promise in VERT Challenge split

Photo via Chomp Talk

No. 7 Florida volleyball now has a 1-1 record after facing two of the country’s best teams in Lincoln, Nebraska for the annual VERT Challenge. Going into the weekend, fans were curious to see how well the 2018 team (which features seven freshmen and just two seniors) would perform.

After knocking off No. 2 Nebraska on Saturday and losing to No. 3 Texas in five sets on Sunday, it is safe to say that Florida volleyball picked up where it left off last season.

Nebraska

The Gators topped off the second-ranked team in the country on their home court in just four sets.

Heading into the match, the odds were stacked against the Gators. Prior to last night, Florida was 0-3 against Nebraska in Lincoln. The Huskers also beat out the Gators for the 2017 National Championship. And while Florida lost four All-American seniors this year, Nebraska retained one of college volleyball’s best in Mikaela Foecke.

But, Florida’s freshmen played fearlessly. 2017’s consensus No. 1 recruit Thayer Hall is already living up to her hype with a whopping game-high 20 kills. Allie Gregory led the Gators in digs (21) and aces (2). Marlie Monserez, the final freshman in the starting lineup against Nebraska, dished out a team-high 23 assists. 6-foot-8 junior Rachael Kramer recorded six blocks on the night.

Texas

On Sunday, the Gators took on No. 3 Texas. Last season, the No. 1 Longhorns fell in the opener in Gainesville. This season, Texas bested Florida in five sets.

The Gators used the same starting lineup to face the Longhorns (Hall, M. Monserez, Gregory, Kramer, Paige Hammons, and Taelor Kellum) and looked more tired than they did against Nebraska.

Hall shined again with 21 kills, but the rest of the team leader’s stats dipped slightly. Despite posting just a .170 overall clip compared to Texas’ .251, Florida was able to stretch the match to five sets with more kills (63-62), aces (4-2), assists (62-56), and digs (71-64). The Longhorns made 20 saves behind Morgan Johnson‘s eleven. The Gators only recorded seven.

Looking Ahead

Next week, the Bubly Invitational will take place in Gainesville. On Friday, the Gators will take on No. 10 USC for the home opener. On Saturday, they will face Louisville and on Sunday, Florida will close up the tournament against UCF.

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