Florida was shocked at home by Georgia four days after completing a weekend sweep against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs swept the Gators (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) Wednesday night.
Marina Markova got started quickly to get Florida out to an early lead. She opened the first set with back-to-back kills.
The first went through the hands of Georgia’s frontline, and the second was tapped over the outstretched hands of the Bulldogs. She and Gabrielle Essix scored once again for the Gators after they blocked Georgia’s attack.
Despite the hot start, Florida lost all the momentum and gave up 8 points, forcing them into a timeout. The team gave up 2 service aces and got blocked seeing them fall to an 8-3 deficit.
After the timeout, Florida found its footing. Markova got her third kill of the night, and a ball handling error by Georgia had the Gators trailing by three, 8-5.
Georgia’s Kacie Evans prevented a run with a kill, but Essix kept her team close with her first kill of the night. Back-to-back kills by Sophie Fischer extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 11-6.
Merritt Beason then became involved with a kill, and a subsequent attack error by Fischer had Florida trailing 11-8. Georgia won three of the next four serves to take a 5-point lead.
The Gators answered with a 3-point run, including a service ace by Trinity Adams, to bring themselves within two. The Gators scored again, but a challenge awarded Georgia with the point after the ball was ruled out on Florida. What would have been a 1-point deficit turned into one of 3 points in favor of Georgia.
The Bulldogs then scored three in a row to take an 18-12 lead. Markova tallied another kill, but a kill by Evans kept Georgia’s lead at six.
Markova stayed involved as she got her fifth kill of the night and a block to have the Gators trailing 19-15. A kill by Beason brought the home team within three and forced a Bulldog timeout.
The timeout couldn’t keep Beason from making an impact as she got another kill after the break. Fischer stopped the Gators’ 4-point run, but Beason tallied another kill to bring the team within two.
The Gators stuffed Georgia twice in a row to tie the set at 20. Evans slowed the Gators’ momentum, but kills by Essix and Bre Kelley gave Florida its second lead of the set, 22-21.
After Georgia scored back-to-back points, Georgia hit an error on an attack. The call was challenged and overturned after it was ruled Florida touched the ball. The Bulldogs took the next point and the first set, 25-22.
The Gators came into the second set on the attack, taking the first 5 points behind a block, 2 attack errors and 2 service aces by Emily Canaan. A service ace by Canaan ended the run, and a kill and block brought the Bulldogs within two.
An attack by Sofia Victoria was touched by Georgia, and the opposing coach, Tom Black, called the teams third challenge nine serves into the second set. The call stood and Victoria got another kill to put Florida out front by four, 7-3.
Another Gator service ace, this time by Elli McKissock extended the lead and forced a timeout by Georgia. Florida committed two errors in a row, but a kill by Kelley gave UF a 9-5 lead.
Florida scored on four of the next six serves, including a kill by Markova, to take a 13-7 lead. Markova kept her momentum going as she tallied back-to-back kills to push the Florida lead to 15-9.
Georgia scored four in a row to trail by only two. A kill by Markova and service error on Georgia put Florida on a run, but the Bulldogs stole the momentum and took an 18-17 lead capped off with a block on Beason’s attack.
Georgia kept rolling, scoring the next 2 points. An attack error by Georgia’s Fischer ended the team’s 6-point run. Georgia, again, scored back-to-back fueled by a kill by Evans and a service ace.
Kelley got another kill, but two more points for the Bulldogs gave them set point. Despite a spirited run to close the set, Georgia held on to win the set 25-23 and take a two-set lead.
Florida once again found itself with an early lead. An attack error and 2 kills by Beason put the Gators out front, 3-1.
However, history repeated itself again, and the Bulldogs went on a 6-point run to take a 7-3 lead. The Gators showed they can also go on scoring runs and took the next four serves to tie the set at 7.
The teams exchanged punches until Georgia broke the pattern following an attack error by Markova to give Georgia an 11-9 lead. The teams alternated 2-point scoring runs until Georgia pushed theirs to three in a row with a block to put them ahead 16-13.
A Beason kill brought Florida back within two, but Evans and Fischer got kills to give their team an 18-14 lead and force a timeout by head coach Mary Wise and the Gators.
The Bulldogs took the first serve out of the break, but a kill by Kelley and block by Kelley and Beason brought the Gators back within three. Georgia responded with two more points and held a 5-point lead, just four points away from a sweep.
Two Georgia errors kept Florida close and forced a timeout by the away team. Beason served the ball into the net, and the Bulldogs held a 22-18 lead.
Victoria got a kill, but Georgia won the last three serves and completed a sweep in Gainesville.
Markova had one of her most impactful matches of the season. She led the way for the Gators with 14 kills. Beason and Victoria both contributed 7 kills, tied for second on the team.
Essix led Florida in blocks with 5. Beason contributed 4 kills, and Markova had 3.
The Gators struggled to play a clean game against the Bulldogs. The team hit only .090% with 35 kills on 100 attacks.
The team had 26 attack errors, compared to 18 by Georgia. The Gators were stuffed at the net frequently as the Bulldogs totaled 11 blocks.
Florida will hope to clean up its play Oct. 26 when it travels to Auburn to take on the Crimson Tide.