STARKVILLE, Miss. – The 13th-ranked Florida volleyball team defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs in straight sets for the second-consecutive night on Saturday in the Newell-Grissom Building.
The Gators are now winners of five-straight matches and improve to 15-3 overall and 7-1 in conference play. Mississippi State drops to 11-7 on the year and 4-4 in the SEC.
Florida earned the 25-19 victory in the first set to open the match and then followed with another 25-19 win in the second frame. UF then closed out the match with a 25-22 win in the third set.
The Gators were led offensively by Sofia Victoria who posted a 14-kill effort in the match. Merritt Beason added 13 kills of her own, while Marina Markova tallied a 10-kill performance for Florida. Bre Kelley also pitched in seven kills in the victory.
Alexis Stucky led the team to a .347 hitting efficiency, dishing out 44 assists in the process. The 44 assists were a three-set best for the rookie setter.
Florida held Mississippi State to a .178 clip in the match, tallying 6.0 blocks at the net. Gabrielle Essix and Kelley paced the Gator defense with 3.0 blocks apiece, while Victoria, Beason and Markova each registered one on the night.
Elli McKissock and Emily Canaan led the backcourt effort for the Gators, registering nine digs each on the night. Stucky followed with eight digs of her own, while Beason posted six in the win.
Behind the service line, Beason recorded a team-high two aces, while McKissock and Trinity Adams added one apiece.
The Gators are back in action on Wednesday for a midweek matchup against Georgia in Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +.
No. 13 Florida (15-3, 7-1 SEC)
Mississippi State (11-7, 4-4 SEC)
How It Happened
* Finding themselves down 6-5 early in the opening frame, the Gators used a 3-0 run to grab the 8-6 advantage. Florida’s lead then grew to as many as five before the media timeout, with UF taking the 15-10 lead into the break. The Gators continued to roll after the pause in action, going ahead seven at the 20-13 mark to force a Mississippi State timeout. The Bulldogs climbed to within four, but Florida closed out with the 25-19 victory to start the match.
* Victoria led the way with six kills in the first set, hitting .500 through the frame. Essix and Markova each pitched in three kills of their own to secure the set for Florida.
* UF took the 5-1 advantage early in the second frame, thanks in part to a service run from Beason. The Gators continued to keep the Bulldogs at bay through the media timeout, taking the 15-11 lead into the break. Mississippi State pulled to within three at 16-13 out of the break, but it was the closest the Bulldogs would get for the rest of the way, with Florida cruising to the 25-19 victory.
* Florida hit .316 in the second set, led by six kills from Beason, while Markova, Victoria, Kelley and Stucky each added three.
* The third set was a battle from the start, with neither team holding more than a one-point lead until the Gators edged ahead at the 14-12 mark. The Bulldogs went on a 2-0 run to knot the set at 14-all, but it was Florida that took the 15-14 lead into the media timeout. Out of the media timeout, the Gators continued to hold the lead, but with Mississippi State cutting UF’s lead to just one at 19-18, Florida elected to use its first timeout of the set. The Gators were able to close out the match with a final 6-4 run to earn the 25-22 victory.
* Florida hit a stellar .484 in the final frame, led by six kills from Beason. Victoria (5) and Markova (4) combined for nine kills to clinch the match.
* Stucky’s 44 assists were a three-set best for the freshman setter
* The Gators improve to 55-1 in the all-time series against the Bulldogs, including a 46-1 record under Mary Wise
* Florida is now 50-0 in three-set matches against Mississippi State
* The Gators improve to 28-0 in Starkville, Miss.
* UF improves to 8-0 in three-set matches during the 2022 campaign
Thoughts from Coach Wise
* “Can’t say enough about the gritty performance by the Gators on back-to-back nights.”
* The Gators are back in action on Wednesday, Oct. 19 against Georgia at Exactech Arena in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
* First serve is slated for 7 p.m. on SEC Network +
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