No. 15 Florida Gators volleyball beat the Virginia Cavaliers, 3-0, in its third match of the Gators Invitational Saturday. They previously beat North Florida, 3-1, and East Tennessee State University, 3-1 in the season opening tournament.
Aside from a couple hiccups, the Gators had control over the Cavaliers and never let up. The team established a quick lead in the first set and held onto it for the remainder of the period.
Marina Markova was off to a quick start and tallied 2 kills through the first 7 points. Markova’s service ace gave Florida a 6-4 lead it never lost.
The Gators went on a 19-7 run to close out the first set, 25-11, and give them a dominant first set victory. The second set saw more of the same from the red-hot Gators.
The team cruised to a 25-7 second set victory topped off by Alexis Stucky’s set-winning service ace.
The third set saw the teams going back and forth. The set was tied after 16 serves, but it was UF that was able to steal the momentum and take the set, 25-18.
The team dominated both teams it faced in Saturday’s double header and never showed signs of slowing down. Coach Mary Wise said the players were energetic despite playing in two games Saturday.
“An older team, you would have heard about how tired they were,” Wise said. “But not this group.”
Florida’s .521 hitting percentage was much more efficient than Virginia’s .141. The Gators had not hit over .500 since March 13, 2021, against Missouri.
Merritt Beason was instrumental in the game, and the weekend as a whole, as she was named tournament MVP. She had 12 kills on 17 attacks and added on 6 digs and 3 service aces.
Beason was a standout, but she had plenty of help from her teammates. Markova and Stucky both made the All-Tournament Team due to their efforts.
Markova had 14 kills on 25 attacks, adding on 2 service aces in the process. Stucky set up her teammates beautifully with 33 assists and 5 service aces.
Beason said the team is playing well together and has bonded greatly in their short time together.
“This team is super close, and I think that makes a big difference on the court,” Beason said.
The Gators’ next match comes at 7 p.m. Tuesday in its top-15 matchup against No. 14 Stanford.