Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

Florida defeated Missouri in straight sets on the road last Saturday — its third consecutive sweep victory.

After the win, senior setter Marlie Monserez said she believes the Gators are hitting their stride as they continue to get healthy entering the final month of the season.

“We have a small roster this year,” Monserez said. “We’re still pretty deep having only 13 people, and having everyone healthy is really great.”

The Gators have won seven of their last eight matches, which includes a whopping six sweeps. Following the win over last-place Mizzou, Florida’s conference record improved to 8-2 — tied with Mississippi State for second place in the SEC.

Gators Welcome Lady Vols

The Gators return to the O’Connell Center Thursday where they’ll host third-place Tennessee (8-3) in a ranked match. In this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll, Florida is ranked No. 23 and Tennessee is No. 22.

The Lady Volunteers travel to the Sunshine State on a two-game losing skid after being swept by LSU and No. 5 Kentucky.

Florida and Tennessee stack up virtually evenly on paper in terms of team statistics this season. As far as individual talent, Florida boasted four players — Monserez, middle blocker Lauren Forte, and outside hitters T’ara Ceasar and Thayer Hall — on the Preseason All-SEC Team, while Tennessee received no recognition. Nevertheless, the Lady Vols use a balanced attack and currently boast a numerically deeper roster than Florida.

The Gators are 49-8 against Tennessee under head coach Mary Wise and have won nine of the last 10 meetings. Thursday’s match is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will air on SEC Network+.

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