Thayer Hall

Thayer Hall led UF in kills against Minnesota. 

Florida volleyball walked into its match as the seventh-ranked team in the country, but the game itself told a different story: No. 8 Minnesota swept the Gators in the Golden Gophers’ home-opener Saturday night.

UF (2-2) dropped its second-straight match to Minnesota (25-20, 25-17, 25-22) following a Wednesday night loss to No. 1 Stanford, which also ended in similar fashion.

It was a game where Florida just couldn’t click in the right way at the right time. 

Sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall, who averaged 11.08 kills per game last season, notched 11 kills in the match, while redshirt junior right-side hitter Holly Carlton, who notched 9.15 kills last year, logged nine along with junior outside hitter Paige Hammons.  

The average night left little to be excited about as the Gators came home with their second loss this season. But despite the poor outcome, Florida only lost back-to-back matches once last season, and with any luck for UF, that may just be the case again this season with a veteran-heavy squad.

The Gators enter a home tournament this weekend, hosting USF, James Madison and Long Beach State. While none of these schools might be the power-programs Florida will face later this season, the games will help UF focus on the adjustments it needs to make before SEC play begins later this month.

Saturday’s first frame wasn’t one of Florida’s best. On 46 swings, seven of them were attack errors and only nine ended up bouncing off the hardwood for a kill. The Golden Gophers (2-2) ended up gaining momentum on a 9-4 run before taking a five-point lead halfway through the set. The closest Florida got to catching up was staying within two points at 9-11 before Minnesota went on a run that couldn’t be caught, ending the set in its favor.

The second frame started out much better for UF, with the Gators only trailing by one when the Golden Gophers hit 10 points on the set. But things went out of sync again, prompting the home team to take a 18-11 lead on an 8-2 run.

The last frame also started out well for Florida with a 7-3 lead, but it didn’t last long as Minnesota went on another long run (9-2) later in the set to take the 19-14 lead late in the third. The Gators hung around as the Golden Gophers inched closer to a win, staying within two points at 23-21 and 24-22, but a Minnesota kill sealed Florida’s demise.

Extended runs throughout the match seemed to be the virus the Gators couldn’t cure. Those runs prompted the Golden Gophers to gain momentum and beat Florida down point by point, making it nearly impossible for the team to recover.

Florida moves to 1-4 against Minnesota overall and the teams split a 1-1 record in three-set matches. 

UF will return to the O’Connell Center Friday afternoon for the Gator Invitational, which will run through Saturday evening.

Follow Mari Faiello @faiello_mari. Contact her at [email protected].

Mari Faiello is a sports writer for the Alligator and covers the University of Florida's volleyball team. She has previously covered UF men's tennis, UF women's tennis, UF volleyball and UF softball. She has worked at the paper since Fall 2017.