The University of Georgia women’s volleyball team upset No. 5 Florida in Gainesville Friday evening in four sets (25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23). It was the first win over Florida since 2008, snapping a 19-match losing streak to the Gators.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the ladies tonight and how they fought,” said head coach Tom Black. “Florida has been at the top of the league for decades now and it was awesome to watch the toughness our team showed throughout the match. We’ll enjoy this for a couple hours and get right back to work for another challenge tomorrow.”
Not only was it the first win against Florida since 2008, it was the first win in Gainesville since Nov. 7, 1986, and the first win over a top-10 opponent since the same win against Florida in 2008 when the Gators were ranked No. 8 in Athens. Friday’s win is the 10th all-time against Florida in 76 meetings.
For the sixth time this season, sophomore Amber Stivrins led the Bulldogs offense with 16 kills. Fellow sophomore Kacie Evans tallied a season-high 15 kills, her first double-digit kill performance of the season, and a season-best 14 digs for her first double-double of the season. Evans also hit .324 in the contest with a pair of blocks.
Defensively, redshirt-junior libero Claire Rothenberger picked up 11 digs. On the net, Georgia tallied 11 team blocks, led by a season-best seven from freshman Phoebe Awoleye.
Georgia fell behind very early as Florida opened a 6-1 lead to begin the match, forcing a quick timeout from the Bulldog bench. Georgia worked to cut the lead to two and stayed close on the Gators’ heels. Down 18-15, a 5-0 Georgia run with Rothenberger at the service line gave the Bulldogs a 20-18 lead in the opening set. Georgia was able to use the late run and hold on en route to a 25-21 opening set victory. Awoleye and Stivrins each tallied a trio of kills in the opening set.
The second set featured seven ties and the lead changed hands five times. After finding a lead, the Bulldogs were able to open a six-point advantage at 21-15. Georgia used a timeout after three-straight points from the Gators, 21-18. Georgia regrouped and focused to take the next four points to take the set 25-18 and capture a 2-0 lead in the match. Stivrins added six kills in the set.
Florida staved off a sweep by the Bulldogs with a win in set three. The Gators never trailed in the frame en route to a 25-19 win in the third set. Down 16-11, Georgia went on a 4-0 run to cut the lead to one, 16-15, but that would be the closest they would get to the Gators. After hitting sub-.100 in the first two sets, Florida hit .346 in the third.
The fourth frame was once again a closely contested one with nine ties and four lead changes. The teams went back-and-forth until a 6-0 run by Florida broke open a 11-6 lead. Down 15-12, a 5-0 run gave the Bulldogs a 17-15 advantage. Later, a 6-1 Gator run gave Florida the 23-22 lead. Georgia regrouped to win the next three, winning the match on Evans’ sixth kill of the set and 15th of the match, 25-23.
Georgia will square off against Florida on Saturday in the final match of the fall. First serve against the Gators is set for 5 p.m.