On Friday, the No. 11 Florida Gators hosted day one of the Gators Invitational. In the two matches they played, Florida defeated Liberty (25-21, 25-17, 25-12) and Northern Arizona (25-14, 25-17, 25-13) in straight sets.
The Gators have now won six consecutive games and sit at 8-2 on the season.
Match 1 vs. Liberty
In the first match, Florida faced the Lady Flames of Liberty. Coming into the invitational, the Lady Flames had a 5-4 record. However, it took the Gators just three frames to get their first win of the day.
Rachael Kramer led the way with 12 kills on 16 attacks. After Kramer came Thayer Hall and Paige Hammons with 10 kills each on 17 and 23 attacks respectively.
As a team, Florida racked up 42 kills with nine errors. Meanwhile, Liberty hit 33 kills and gave away 18 errors.
Match 2 vs. NAU
The Gators’ second match of the day against NAU was even more of a blowout. At one point, Florida had scored nine straight points.
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Hall led the game in kills by some margin; she ended with 13 kills, followed by Hammons with eight.
Lauren Dooley led the way defensively with five total blocks.
The Lumberjacks had a tough time picking up kills. On 94 total attempts, NAU registered just 21 kills and gave away 16 errors. They ended the match with a .053 hitting percentage.
One of the main reasons Liberty and NAU struggled to pick up kills against the Gators was because of Florida’s improvement on the defensive end. Head Coach Mary Wise mentioned that she wanted Darrielle King in particular to pick up more blocks after last week’s invitational.
Florida ended the day with 17.5 total blocks in the two matches. On paper, that doesn’t look like much of an improvement from previous matches. However, the Gators seemed to get touches on almost every attack from the opposition. Their efforts didn’t always lead directly to points, but their timely rotations made it very difficult for their opponents to strike any clean kills.
Coach Wise noted her team’s improvements defensively.
“Tonight, I felt that the team just had a much better understanding, from a defensive standpoint, of our blocking setup,” said Wise.
In their third and final match of the Gators Invitational, Florida will face Louisiana Lafayette at 3:30 p.m.