The Gators had their back against the wall as they faced a 2-1 deficit in the match. On the brink of being defeated, the team rallied together and showed their fight to cap off a come from behind win in five sets. It came down to who wanted it more on Tuesday night in Tallahassee, and Florida had just enough left in the tank to secure the win and move to 8-0 on the season.
The Seminoles used a loud and intense environment to their advantage at Tully Gymnasium. Florida State jumped out to an early lead in the first set and were riding the momentum of the home crowd. FSU led 8-2 in the first set and forced Gators Head Coach, Mary Wise to call a timeout. However, the Seminoles continued to execute their game plan effectively. Resulting in a 25-18 victory in set one.
The Gators showed no signs of quitting as they knew how important the rivalry is. The team showed resiliency in set number two. After the score was tied 3-3, Florida would go on a 4-0 run. Then, Florida State fought back to take a 13-12 lead in the frame. Moreover, the teams traded points until a the Gators pulled away to win the set and even the match 1-1.
Heading to a pivotal set three, the Seminoles made a statement grabbing a 12-8 lead. Florida once again bounced back to knot things at 12 apiece. Following a timeout by FSU, the set went back and forth as the two teams traded blows before Florida State won the third set 25-23.
While the Gators began to see their perfect record begin to slip away, they began to flip the switch. UF gained a 7-3 edge in the fourth set. A service run by Trinity Adams allowed the Gators lead to grow to 15-9. Later on, Florida would finish the set on a 6-2 run to earn a 25-17 win in set four.
In the match’s deciding fifth set, it was winner take all. Florida watched their lead grow to 6-3 over Florida State before the Seminoles battle their way out of a hole to gain a 10-9 lead. However, the momentum swung once again back into the Gators hands as they took a 13-11 lead. FSU answered right back to tie the score at 13 apiece. With the match coming down to the final points, Sofia Victoria had two clutch back-to-back kills to seal the match victory for the Gators.
Kennedy Martin and AC Fitzpatrick led the Gators on offense. Martin had an impressive performance leading the way with 23 kills and three aces. Fitzpatrick left it all out on the court tonight and posted a career-high 22 kills. The intensity and competitiveness that she displayed will be something Florida will look for out of her all season long. Sofia Victoria also contributed 10 of her own kills throughout the match, and was a solid third option offensively.
Alexis Stucky had a stellar performance tallying 50 assists on the night, good for a .276 hitting percentage. Stucky was able to consistently receive great first passes from her backcourt to set up her variety of weapons that she has at her disposal.
Defensively, Nnedi Okammor led the way with five blocks. Gabrielle Essix added four blocks of her own in the victory as well. While Fitzpatrick totaled three on the match.
Florida’s backcourt was held down by Elli McKissock and Adams. The teammates each posted a match high 10 digs. Stucky and Martin were both positive contributers on defense as well tallying nine digs apiece.
The Gators will get some much needed rest before No. 1 Wisconsin comes to town. The No. 3 Gators will battle Wisconsin on Sunday in one of the elite matchups of the AVCA season so far. First serve will be at 3 p.m. from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.