Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

Florida was up 2-0 entering the third set, but it blew its lead when Louisiana State took the third and fourth sets in dramatic fashion.

The Gators finished the match strong and took the final set behind career-high performances from a couple of the team’s top players. Florida took down LSU in five sets (25-18, 26-24, 25-27, 21-25, 15-9).

Merritt Beason gave Florida an early edge with a kill to give the team a 1-0 lead. After two kills and a service error by LSU, Beason got another kill to put UF up, 3-2.

Beason committed an error on her next serve, but the team scored four points in a row to retake the lead, 7-3. The Tigers got a kill and Florida went on another run, this time for three points to go up 10-4.

LSU took three of the next four serves, but back-to-back kills by Beason stopped the Tigers’ run and saw the score at 13-7. The teams took turns scoring until Alexis Stucky’s service ace broke the pattern and gave Florida a 19-12 lead.

The Tigers won five of the next six serves to bring the set within reach at 20-17. Florida clutched up going on a 5-1 run of their own to win the first set, 25-18. Beason came up big for her team with 6 kills in the set.

Florida got out to another quick lead, 2-0, after a kill by Gabrielle Essix and an error by LSU’s Alia Williams. Sofia Victoria got 2 kills over the next five serves to put Florida ahead, 4-3.

LSU answered in a big way, going on a 7-2 run to take a 10-6 lead. UF brought it within 2, 12-10, behind kills from Beason and Bre Kelley.

The Tigers retook the momentum with four points in a row to go up, 16-10. The Tigers and Gators split the next four points, putting the score at 18-12 in favor of LSU.

The Gators went on the biggest run of the game, stealing the momentum with a 10-point run to lead, 22-18. LSU’s 5-1 run tied the set back up at 23. Each team scored a point and then errors by the Tigers gave Florida a 26-24 second-set victory.

Florida got off to an even quicker start in the third set with a 5-0 run. LSU then went on a run of their own, 6-2, until a kill by Victoria slowed the Tigers down.

However, a 4-point LSU run put the Tigers up, 10-8. The teams took turns scoring until Beason got back-to-back kills to tie the set at 14.

The Tigers scored back-to-back points, UF scored three in a row, and LSU went on their own 3-point run to take a 19-17 lead.

A kill by Marina Markova and an attack error by LSU tied the set at 19. LSU won five of seven serves and faced set point at 24-21.

Despite a 3-point run by Florida to tie the set at 24, the Tigers finished the set strong and won, 27-25.

After three sets, the Tigers finally scored to open the set as fourth began. The teams took turns committing service errors and getting kills until the set was tied at 4.

Florida scored again to take a 5-4 lead, but a 5-0 run for LSU gave the set right back to the away team. The Gators kept the set close until Essix’s service error started a 6-point run for the Tigers to put LSU out front by 9, 19-11.

Florida went on a 7-2 run to come within 3, 21-18, as the set approached its end. LSU managed to hold onto its lead and won the set, 25-21, capped off by a kill by Williams.

An attack error by Markova gave LSU a 1-0 lead to start the final set of the match. She recovered and tied it with a kill, and an error by LSU put the Gators on top until a kill for LSU tied it back up at 2.

Both teams scored back-to-back points and the set was still tied, this time at 4. Florida took the momentum and scored four points in a row to go up, 8-4.

LSU tallied a kill, but UF created more separation with back-to-back points including a kill by Essix. The team’s went back and forth until an attack error by Markova brought the Tigers closer at 12-9. 

Beason got her 21st kill of the match, and Okammor got her fourth block of the set to give Florida the set point. LSU’s Sanaa Dotson committed an attack error, and the Gators clinched the victory.

After an impressive 15.5 block performance Oct. 8, the Gators managed to top that stat with 16 in the second game of the weekend series against LSU. Essix led the way for the Gators with 10 blocks, and Beason was just behind with 8 blocks of her own.

Beason tied her career high in kills from the Gators’ upset victory in Wisconsin with 21 kills. Victoria and Markova added 16 and 14 respectively, and Essix tallied 12 kills to give her a first collegiate double-double and career high stats in both categories.

Florida had three players with double digit kills; Elli McKissock had 20, Stucky had 16 (a career high, and Emily Canaan had 10. Stucky also managed a career high in assists with 56 of the team’s 63 total assists.

Essix, Beason and Stucky all set career highs to help put the Gators on top in a tight, five-set battle.

The Gators will now turn their sights to Mississippi State, which the team will play Friday and Saturday in a two-game series.

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