Tennessee volleyball dropped its second match to the No. 8 Florida Friday in three sets, 25-21, 29-27, 25-16. The Lady Vols now sit at 6-6 after suffering their second series sweep of the year.
Morgahn Fingall and Lily Felts led the way for the Lady Vols. Fingall recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs, while Felts totaled 12 kills and 9 digs, one shy of her own double-double. The duo combined for nearly half of the Lady Vols’ total scoring output in Friday’s match.
As a team, Tennessee hit a subpar .157 with only 39 kills as opposed to Florida’s hitting percentage of .267 with 47 total kills. The Lady Vols are 0-6 on the year when hitting less than .250 as a team.
Florida moves to 12-2 this season, having won its last seven in a row. Friday’s match against Tennessee marks its tenth set sweep of the season, far and away leading the SEC in that arena. In their past eight matches, only one set has not gone to the Gators.
“Florida is a really good team. They present a lot of physical challenges with their size at the net,” coach Eve Rackham-Watt stated postgame. “Even so, I loved the way our team came back today after the match yesterday.”
The Lady Vols’ match started off nearly identical to match one against the Gators. Tennessee leapt out to an early lead before trading points, eventually giving way to a 23-21 Florida lead. After a service error on the Lady Vols, a kill by Florida junior Marlie Monserez cemented the set one victory for the Gators, 25-21.
Set two saw Florida jump out to a commanding 8-2 start before Tennessee came roaring back to take a late 20-19 lead. The Gators came out swinging after their subsequent timeout, jumping to a convincing 24-21 advantage just one point away from taking set two.
Tennessee refused to go down easily to the dismay of the socially distant Gator faithful in attendance. Two kills by Felts, as well as two huge blocks by Junior Ava Bell gave the Lady Vols a 25-24 lead, one away from their first set point of the weekend series. Florida then reminded everyone why it is the No. 8 team in the country in heartbreaking fashion, taking the 29-27 set two victory behind two calculated blocks from senior Holly Carlton.
“When you get to this level you have to be able to capitalize on those opportunities. You don’t always get them,” Rackham said. “I love that we never got down in terms of our mentality. We continued to fight and found ourselves in a position to win that set, but just couldn’t finish.”
In the third, exhaustion set in. Tennessee fell behind early and could never climb out of the hole, eventually falling to the Gators by a score of 25-16 in perhaps the least competitive set of the weekend series.
Tennessee now looks forward to facing Mississippi State next week at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Bulldogs are 4-8 on the season, but riding a two game win streak into their series against Alabama later Friday afternoon.
First serve for both matches between the Lady Vols and Bulldogs are scheduled for next Friday and Saturday (3/5, 3/6) at 6:30 p.m. ET.