Photo by Kristen Oliff / ChompTalk.com

The Florida Gators improved to 16-3 (7-1) after a sweep over Alabama in the O’Dome (25-18, 25-16, 25-16). Florida sits atop the Southeastern Conference standings alongside Georgia and Kentucky.

How It Happened

Although the Gators picked up a clean sweep over the Crimson Tide, head coach Mary Wise will still expect to see better volleyball in the future.

“I think at this point in time in the season, when we’re still not to the halfway point in the SEC, that’s encouraging,” said Wise. “Our best volleyball is still ahead of us.”

Florida started the match slowly defensively. In the first set, they only picked up one block. However, clean and efficient hitting from Thayer Hall and Paige Hammons overshadowed any defensive missteps the Gators had. Additionally, Florida’s serving was phenomenal out of the gate. Hammons picked up both Gator aces in the first set.

Moving onto the second set, Florida’s defensive efficiency improved slightly, but not a whole lot. They picked up two blocks in the second set. Again, though, the Gators continued to hit and serve well. After picking up five kills in the first, Hall added another four in the second. Lauren Dooley chipped in with three. Holly Carlton picked up two aces, and Hall and Hammons registered one more each.

Finally, in the third set, Florida’s efforts at the net started to materialize into points. The Gators beat the total from the first two sets in the final set alone with four blocks. Hammons and Allie Gregory tacked on two more service aces, Hall put away another five kills, and Dooley and Carlton converted all three of their swings into scores.

“Our defense definitely struggled in the first two sets, but I’m proud of us for finding adjustments and getting better throughout the match,” said Gregory. “We didn’t start bad and end bad; we started bad and ended great, which is a good sign, and we’re going to carry that into Sunday.”

Final Stats

Hall led the way with 15 kills on 31 attempts. What’s impressive about her performance is that she made no errors on the night, ending up with a clip of .484. Alabama’s Doris Carter kept up with Hall for much of the match and finished with 14 kills on 33 attempts with three errors for a hitting percentage of .333.

As a team, the Gators hit .391 to Alabama’s .208. Florida also led in blocks (8-4), digs (39-37), and aces (8-1).

What’s Next?

The Gators are sticking around for another match at home on Sunday. The Tennessee Volunteers are visiting and have lost their last three matches. First serve is set for 1 p.m.

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