Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

The Florida Gators and Penn State Nittany Lions squared off in a battle between two ranked teams. Florida would come out victorious winning the match in four sets. After losing the first set, the Gators kept their composure. Leading to their seventh straight season opening win.

Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational

Penn State looked sharp early, winning the first set 25-18. However, the Gators would bounce back to win a competitive second set 25-23. After the match was now even, Florida had the momentum. They capitalized on their momentum and won the third set, 25-17. Heading into the fourth and final set, Florida put away the Nittany Lions while ending the match in four sets.

With the victory, the Gators showed that they are more than capable of competing with the elite teams in the country. Opening the season in the win column is something this team has gotten used to, but there is still a long road ahead to achieve the goals this team is capable of.

Key Contributors

Freshman, Kennedy Martin, led the Gators with 18 kills. In her first collegiate match, Martin put her talents on the play as she was the leader on the offensive front. She wasn’t shy to flash her skills on the defensive side of the ball either, tallying 5 blocks on the night. Fellow freshman, Kira Hutson, collected 14 kills during her first action in college volleyball. The two freshman combined to make school history. Martin and Hutson became the first freshman duo in UF history to record a combined 30 kills in their first ever career matches.

There was elite talent on the court for the Gators other than these impressive freshman. Sofia Victory put her footprint on the match by adding 11 kills. While graduate transfer, Anna Dixon, notched 10 kills and two blocks in her first match in the Orange and Blue.

The facilitator of the offense was sophomore setter, Alexis Stucky. The 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year looked sharp as she totaled 55 assists on the night. Coming up only one assist shy of her career high.

Elli McKissock had 13 digs leading the Gators. The senior libero will be a season long starter who will bring veteran leadership to the team on and off the court. Another strong presence on Florida’s defense was Gabrielle Essix as she put up a team-high 7 blocks.

Gators Back in Action

Florida will have a quick turnaround as they prepare for USF on Saturday night. The Road 2 Tampa Bay Invitational will continue to air on ESPN+. First serve for the match against USF is scheduled for Saturday, August 26th at 8 p.m. from the Yuengling Center.

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