Photo by Kristen Oliff /

The No. 11 Florida Gators defeated Long Beach State in five sets (25-27, 25-16, 25-20, 19-25, 19-17) to complete the Honda of Gainesville Gator Invitational 3-0. The Gators are now 5-2 overall.

Lauren Dooley won the tournament’s MVP award.

After Rachael Kramer went down injured against USF, Darrielle King and Lauren Dooley needed to fill the large gap the 6’8 middle blocker left. They did just that, and more, against LBSU.

Deadly from the Middle

King and Dooley led the Gators in kills and hitting percentage for players with more than one attempt. King had 15 kills from 19 total attacks for a hitting percentage of .789. Dooley bagged 14 kills from 23 total attacks, ending with a hitting percentage of .565.

Dooley started the match on fire. Through the first two sets, she had nine kills from 11 attempts. She was keeping pace with LBSU’s Kashauna Williams, but she’d eventually take off and bury 26 kills.

A Slow Day on the Outside

Thayer Hall, who’s been the Gators’ go-to outside hitter, had the most attempts for Florida (34). However, she finished with 12 kills and seven errors for a hitting percentage of .147.

Paige Hammons struggled, too. From 19 attacks, Hammons registered four kills and two errors to finish with a .105 hitting percentage. However, she chipped in with three aces to lead the team.

Coaches’ Thoughts

One problem Long Beach State had was defending the net. In all, LBSU managed two blocks. The Gators, on the other hand, got eight. While that’s not as many as Mary Wise would like to have, she was still happy with her young middles’ performances.

“From an offensive standpoint, it was flawless,” said Wise. “We’ve had All-American middles that don’t go 15 for 19. She was outstanding offensively. We’ve gotta get better from a blocking standpoint. She’s not blocking as many balls as she will in her future.” -Wise on King’s performance.

“It wasn’t just her numbers; it was her composure,” said Wise. “I can’t say enough good things about Lauren and how hard she worked.” -Wise on Dooley’s performance

Next Up

Next, the Gators will host the No. 25 Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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