GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 14 Florida volleyball team closed out the series against the Arkansas Razorbacks with a thrilling five-set victory on Sunday afternoon in Exactech Arena.
The Gators improve to 18-4 on the year and 10-2 in the SEC after winning three-straight matches, while Arkansas falls to 14-7 overall and 5-6 in league play.
The Razorbacks opened the match with 25-20 victory in the first frame, but the Gators answered with a 25-23 win in the second. Florida clinched the third set with a 25-18 victory, but Arkansas forced a deciding fifth set with a 25-20 win in the fourth. The Gators secured the match with a 15-7 win in the final frame to reach 10 wins in the SEC.
Florida was led on the offensive front by a 17-kill performance from Marina Markova. Sofia Victoria pitched in 16, while Merritt Beason added in a 12-kill effort. Both middle blockers – Bre Kelley and Gabrielle Essix – posted nine kills in the victory to round out the Gator scorers.
Alexis Stucky notched her fifth double-double of the season after registering 54 assists and 14 digs, all while leading the team to a .253 clip.
As a squad, Florida held Arkansas to a .199 hitting efficiency on the afternoon, to go along with 12.0 blocks. Essix posted a team-high eight blocks on the afternoon, followed by five from Beason. Kelley registered four of her own in the match, while Stucky and Markova each added three apiece.
Stucky and Elli McKissock paced the backcourt, each recording a 14-dig performance. Those were followed by Beason’s 11, while Emily Canaan (7), Trinity Adams (5) and Victoria (4) combined for 16 in the match.
Canaan posted two service aces on the afternoon to lead the way for Florida and the duo of McKissock/Stucky each added one.
The Gators return to Exactech Arena on Friday, Nov. 4 to face the Missouri Tigers. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC +.
No. 14 Florida (18-4, 10-2 SEC)
(RV) Arkansas (14-7, 5-6 SEC)
How It Happened
- With the first set tied 6-all, the Razorbacks opened up a 6-1 run to force Florida’s first timeout of the match. Out of the break, the Gators found themselves down seven at the 18-11 mark, but battled back to within five at 18-13. Arkansas once again took the seven-point advantage at 20-13, but Florida would not bow out easy, cutting the deficit to four after a 3-0 service run from Trinity Adams. The Gators couldn’t surpass the four-point Arkansas advantage, falling 25-20 in the first set.
- Markova and Essix led the way offensively with four kills apiece in the first frame.
- Arkansas jumped ahead to the early 12-6 lead in the second set, but the Gators used a 3-0 run to cut the Razorbacks’ lead to just three at 12-9. Arkansas used a 3-1 run of its own to take the 15-10 advantage into the media timeout. Following the break in action, the Razorbacks kept the Gators at a distance, but Florida then used a 5-0 spurt to knot the frame at 19-19. UF took its first lead of the set at the 23-22 mark and closed out the frame with a 2-0 run to knot the match at 1-1.
- Markova posted a team-high six kills in the second set, followed by four from Beason.
- After falling behind 2-0 in the third frame, the Gators used a 4-0 run to take the 4-2 advantage and they did not look back from there. Florida grabbed as large as an eight-point lead twice through the middle of the set, the second of which forced an Arkansas timeout at the 19-11 mark. Out of the break, the Gators were able to cruise to the 25-18 victory.
- Florida hit .400 in the third set, led by six kills from Victoria and four from Beason.
- The Razorbacks went on a 7-2 run after the fourth frame was tied 4-4, forcing a Florida timeout at the 11-6 mark. Arkansas continued to hold the lead through the midway point, but the Gators cut the advantage to just three at 19-16 before back-to-back Razorback points once again gave them the five-point lead. Arkansas held on for the 25-20 victory in the fourth to force a deciding fifth set in Gainesville.
- Victoria posted a team-high three kills in the fourth set, followed by two apiece from Beason, Markova and Essix.
- The Gators hopped out to the early 7-1 lead in the fifth frame, thanks in part to a service run by McKissock. Florida continued to build on its lead, taking the 10-3 advantage to force the second Arkansas timeout of the set. The Gators clinched the match with a 15-7 win in the fifth to move to 10-2 in the league.
- Florida hit .421 in the final frame, led by four kills from Victoria and three from Markova.
- With her 54 assists and 14 digs, Alexis Stucky recorded the fifth double-double of her career
- Merritt Beason tallied her second double-double in as many days and third of the season after recording 12 kills and 11 digs
- It was also her 13th match in double-digit kills in the 2022 campaign
- Marina Markova has now recorded double-digit kills in 16 matches this season after her 17-kill performance
- Sofia Victoria registered her 11th match with double-digit kills this season
- The Gators improve to 50-3 in the all-time series against the Razorbacks
- Florida is now 7-2 in five-set matches against Arkansas
- UF remains unbeaten against Arkansas in Gainesville, Fla., moving to 24-0
- The Gators are now 3-2 in five-set matches during the 2022 campaign
Thoughts from Coach Wise
- “It is SEC competition in 2022 – wins are hard to come by. Arkansas showed a grit and a high level of play; their veterans were outstanding today.”
- The Gators return to Exactech Arena on Friday, Nov. 4 to face the Missouri Tigers
- First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC +
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