Staff Report: SPORTS

The Tennessee Lady volleyball team will head to Gainesville on Thursday for a top-25 SEC showdown with the Florida Gators.

Tennessee enters the match ranked No. 22 according to the American Volleyball Coaches Association with a 16-5 record. The Lady Vols have a strong 8-3 record within SEC play but are looking to rebound from two straight set losses to No. 5 Kentucky and LSU.

On offense, graduate transfer Breanna Runnels and junior Morgahn Fingall have continued to lead the Lady Vols. The two have combined for just under 7 kills per set and have been a dominant force for the team so far this season. The offense has also seen steady contributions from Knoxville, native Lily Felts. She has averaged 2.8 kills per set, adding balance and depth to the Tennessee attack.

Tennessee has also been able to find success in the blocking department this season. The Lady Vols currently have two players ranked in the top-10 for blocks in the SEC. Danielle Mahaffey currently sits in second place with 1.39 blocks per set, and Ava Bell is tied for ninth with 1.13. In addition to her contributions blocking, Bell also leads the SEC in hitting percentage, currently hitting at a .464 clip.

The Gators will come into Thursday’s match with a 14-6 overall record and an 8-2 record in conference play. Florida has won three consecutive matches, all of which were in straight sets against SEC opponents.

On offense, the majority of the Gators’ output comes from redshirt senior T’ara Ceasar. She sits sixth in the SEC with 3.66 kills per set, just ahead of the Lady Vols’ Runnels. Ceasar also ranks fourth in the conference in aces per set.

Defensively, Florida has seen massive contributions from sophomore Elli McKissock. The Windermere, Florida, native is one of the conference’s best on defense this year, ranking third in the SEC with 4.24 digs per set.

This match is begin at 7 p.m. EST and can be viewed on SEC Network.

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