No. 9 Florida sweeps Arkansas, clinches share of SEC title

Early in the first set of Florida volleyball’s match against Arkansas, UF setter Allie Monserez lofted the ball into the air toward rightside hitter Alex Holston. The senior lept into the air and delivered a hard smack on the ball, slamming it down on the Razorbacks’ side of the court for a kill.

It was a familiar sight for Arkansas.

Holston torched the Razorbacks for 24 kills to the tune of a .583 hitting percentage on Saturday afternoon, and the No. 9 Gators (26-3, 16-2 Southeastern Conference) swept Arkansas (9-21, 7-11 SEC) on the road to clinch at least a share of their 22nd SEC title in program history.

In addition to Holston, Florida was led by juniors Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder, who registered 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Monserez, one of the nation’s top setters, tallied 52 assists and nine digs.

For two-and-a-half sets, the Razorbacks played the Gators tough with the scoring going back-and-forth for much of the afternoon.

Florida had eight service errors in the opening set and found themselves on the brink of defeat multiple times. But, behind 14 kills from Holston and three total blocks from Alhassan, the Gators captured the first set 34-32.

The second set was more of the same, with Florida failing to pull away until the very end. An attack error by Arkansas hitter Savannah Voelzke, who led her team with 14 kills, gave the Gators a 26-24 win.

The third set, however, wasn’t close.

Florida hit .583 and closed out the match with a 25-15 win in the frame.

“From afar, it will look like a 3-0 win,” UF coach Mary Wise said in a release. “But anybody who saw it knows it was much closer than that.”

For the match, the Gators had a whopping 12 service errors that helped keep the Razorbacks within striking distance. However, despite rough outings in sets 1 and 2, Florida managed to hold Arkansas to 42 kills and a .272 hitting percentage. Meanwhile, the Gators registered 61 kills and hit .412.

“A senior-laden Arkansas team played very well,” Wise said. “Fortunately, we got an All-American performance from Alex Holston to pull out this one.”

With the win, Florida’s regular season comes to a close.Next up, the NCAA Tournament.The Gators will learn their NCAA Tournament first round matchup on Sunday night during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on ESPNU.“Now we look at it like we’re 0-0,” Wise said. “Happy to win at least part of an SEC championship, but now we move forward.”