Photo by Brian Fox /

Although the Florida Gator volleyball team started its season on the road on Friday, not everyone was truly away from home.

The Gators traveled to No. 25 Louisville and defeated the hosts in three straight sets (25-17, 25-21, 25-21).

Junior outside hitter Paige Hammons was no stranger to the city, as she lived there prior to Gainesville. She attended Sacred Heart Academy during high school.

Big Hopes for 2019

In an interview prior to the start of the season, Hammons announced the intent of the Gators this season.

“With the talent we have and the depth we have on this team, [a national championship] is easily in reach.” -Paige Hammons

While these may be bold claims at such early stages of the season, almost all of the Gators from last year’s team returned, except for Allie Monserez and Taelor Kellum.

Additionally, the Gators looked like a team hungry for success against Louisville.

Florida-Louisville History

Heading into the match, Florida had been successful in all seven encounters with Louisville. Under Mary Wise, the Gators were five for five.

Key Stats

Thayer Hall led the way for Florida in kills on the night with a total of 12. She scored six in the first set, followed by four in the second and two in the third.

In her return home, Hammons added another six kills.

Overall, the Gators landed 41 kills to Louisville’s 32. Florida’s hitting percentage was .304 to Louisville’s .107. However, the most telling stat of the match was Florida’s defensive success at the net. The Gators scored from 14 blocks. Louisville only mustered three points from blocks.

What’s Next?

The Gators won’t be able to celebrate their first victory of the season for very long. On Saturday, at 4 p.m., Florida will face Dayton. The Gators have only ever played Dayton twice (once under Wise), having won both meetings.

After that, things really start to heat up.

Next week, the Gators will face two top-5 ranked opponents in No. 1 Stanford (H) and No. 3 Minnesota (A).

Stay tuned for more content, and follow @ChompTalk and @jericksonreport on Twitter for updates.

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