Last Updated 4:14 PM, September 21, 2023

No. 1 Wisconsin escapes No. 3 Florida in five sets

9:59 pm, September 17, 2023

Wisconsin wallops UF in 5️⃣ to remain undefeated

After dropping the first two sets, top-ranked Wisconsin stormed back to claim its ninth win of the season, and fifth victory over a ranked opponent. No. 3 Florida lost for the first time this season, falling to 8-1 in 2023.

Wisconsin and Florida have played through five sets in over half of their meetings, and history repeated itself again on Sunday. Both teams maxed out on their score counts for the season, collectively tallying 208 points (UF: 106, WIS: 102). They also both recorded season-low hitting percentages; Wisconsin going .199 (.311 was the previous season average) and UF hitting .180 (average was .299). Check the full statistical breakdown below:

Statistic Wisconsin Florida
Attacks 166 167
Kills 56 57
Hitting % 0.199 0.180
Sideout % 56.6% 58.8%
Digs 70 75
Blocks 8.0 8.0

For Wisconsin, setter MJ Hammill topped the dig count with a season-high 17 and assisted a team-high 20, while Sarah Franklin led the attack with 47 swings and 13 kills.

It might've been the absence of UF's star setter Alexis Stucky, who went down in the second set due to a right leg injury, that wounded the Gators. Her replacement, Kennedy Muff, assisted 28 and hit -.571.

Florida broke its home attendance record in the O'Dome, previously set at 8,163 in 1994, as 10,323 Gator fans swarmed the arena. And amidst the sea of blue and orange, fan phone flashlights allegedly distracting players and a dangerous Gator squad, the Badgers proved why, once again, they reign supreme.

9:06 pm, September 17, 2023

🦡 Wisconsin wins 2️⃣ straight to force decisive set

Wisconsin's and Florida's three most recent meetings have gone to five sets, and today is no different.

This set has seen the most balanced effort from both the Badgers and Gators. Wisconsin totaled just one more kill (13) than Florida (12) and gained the advantage in the match hitting percentage, .186 to UF's .176. Carter Booth has been a wall at the net with six blocks and the tandem of Sarah Franklin and Anna Smrek lead the match with 12 kills apiece.

Wisconsin emerged with an early 8-4 advantage and retained the lead through the frame, despite Florida sneaking up to force four set points at the end, then finally losing 25-22. 

8:59 pm, September 17, 2023

🤯 Temi Thomas-Ailara with the DAGGER

Temi Thomas-Ailara brought her firepower to Wisconsin after four years at Northwestern and is making a DENT in the court. Check out this kill, one of her eight today:

8:28 pm, September 17, 2023

📣 Badgers respond to take Set 3

After hitting .000 in Set 1 and .175 in Set 2, Wisconsin found its footing in front of the sold-out O'Dome to hit .406 in the third. Wisconsin's run was sparked by a Caroline Crawford service ace as the 7th point scored in the match, which was followed by a 5-0 scoring run to take the Badgers' largest lead of the afternoon, 14-4. Devyn Robinson put the hammer down on three of those points, as she has accounted for seven kills on 18 attempts in the match. 

Florida took a timeout after an attack error left them trailing 16-23, then exhibited signs of life by scoring four straight to close in by a 3-point deficit, 24-21. Ultimately though, the Gators were unable to pressure the Badgers out-of-system as they did in the first two, and fell victim to Wisconsin's firey attack, held up at .207 to fall 25-21.

8:24 pm, September 17, 2023

🤓 Smart hit by Anna Smrek

Wisconsin's Anna Smrek tips the ball over the net to stump the Gators early in Set 3.

8:12 pm, September 17, 2023

😎 Gators grab second set

Despite the loss of UF All-American setter Alexis Stucky in Set 2, Florida persevered to narrowly take a 25-22 dub. Setter Kennedy Muff stepped up in Stucky's place and is running the systems per usual, adding four assists thus far. All eyes have been on Freshman of the Year prospect, Kennedy Martin, who has been an absolute problem for the Wisconsin defense, contributing nine kills on 18 swings. Two more aces by Anna Dixon and Emily Canaan nudged a Gator advantage at the service line.

8:07 pm, September 17, 2023

🤕 Alexis Stucky benched

Florida setter Alexis Stucky goes down in the middle of Set 2 with a right leg injury. Stucky was the 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year and AVCA All-American; she was replaced by graduate setter Kennedy Muff, who has previously played in two sets in the 2023 season. Head Coach Mary Wise confirmed that Stucky will not return in today's match after the set.
8:01 pm, September 17, 2023

🔨 UF attendance record shattered

Fans packed the O'Dome today as Florida topped its previous attendance record of 8,163.

7:12 pm, September 17, 2023

🐊 Gator CHOMP: UF nabs Set 1

Defense was the name of the game this set, as both squads were held below their season hitting averages, UF at .167 (.293) and Wisconsin with .065 (.311). Florida held the Wisconsin attack to no more than one kill per player.

Trading the lead twice and knotted six times, the beginning of this set was up for grabs. Florida stormed ahead of a 10-10 draw with four straight kills, two knocked down by Kennedy Martin, who hit .250. Anna Dixon posted back-to-back service aces and Alexis Stucky assisted seven to headline the frame as UF handed Wisconsin its seventh set loss of the season, and second first set loss of their 2023 campaign, 25-15.

6:43 pm, September 17, 2023

🍿 Today's starters

Here are Sunday's starting lineups:

🐊 Florida

  • AC Fitzpatrick
  • Alexis Stucky
  • Nnedi Okammor
  • Trinity Adams
  • Kennedy Martin
  • Anna Dixon
  • Elli McKissock

🦡 Wisconsin

  • CC Crawford
  • Devyn Robinson
  • Izzy Ashburn
  • Temi Thomas-Ailara
  • Sarah Franklin
  • Carter Booth
  • Julia Orzol
6:39 pm, September 17, 2023

🥳 Line out the 🚪

Gators fans line the O'Dome ahead of first serve. Tune into ESPN at 3:00 p.m. ET to catch the match live.

8:59 pm, September 15, 2023

📺 How to watch Wisconsin-Florida

Wisconsin volleyball
  • When: Sunday, Sep. 17
  • Where: Gainesville, Fla. | Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O'Connell Center
  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • 👉🏼 Click here for live stats
9:16 pm, September 15, 2023

👀 A peek at the top-3️⃣ battle

The scales for Sunday's Florida vs. Wisconsin faceoff couldn't be more balanced. Both are top-3 ranked teams that have posted perfect records thus far (two of the five top 25 teams that have remained undefeated in Week 3). Here's a side-by-side comparison:

Statistic Wisconsin Florida
Record 8-0 8-0
Sets dropped this season 6 7
Hitting % 0.311 0.293
Opp hitting % 0.163 0.194
Blocks 85 82.5
Kills/S 14.2 13.5

Wisconsin ranks 8th in the nation with its .311 clip, led by MB Carter Booth, who has swung an average of .468 (ranking her 13th nationally). However, the Badgers have yet to see a top-10 opponent this year. In Wednesday's in-state clash with Marquette, it took two sets for the Badgers to orient themselves, getting pushed to 28-26 in the first and dropping the second, 25-20. Even though Wisconsin squeaked by in four, it produced a season-low hitting percentage (.244) and season-high service errors (19), Marquette acing eight serves to Wisconsin's five. In order to keep its undefeated record and No. 1 AVCA ranking, Wisconsin must clean up the serve game and attempt to shove the Gators out of system.

Like Wisconsin's previous struggle, the Gators are coming off a nail-biter with an unranked rival, Florida State, who pushed the Gators to five sets and out-hit UF .303 to .276. But so far this season, UF is 3-0 against ranked opponents, posting 3-0 shutouts against No. 5 Minnesota and No. 2 Stanford to boost its reputation early in the season. And it's no secret that Florida is equipped with the artillery to make it a top-3 team — right side hitter Kennedy Martin, MB Gabbi Essix and setter Alexis Stucky are all ranked in the top-50 in the nation for individual stat lines; Martin adding 5.61 P/S (6th) and 4.58 K/S (11th), Essix registering 1.41 B/S (23rd) and Stucky averaging 10.39 assists per set (36th). As a program, Florida is 3-17 against No. 1 ranked opponents and is 3-3 in matchups between top-3 teams.

Exactly one year prior to Sunday's match, Florida and Wisconsin met in a five-set showdown — competition was so tight that the teams posted the exact same hitting percentage, .115. UF just barely took the cake in the fifth and handed the No. 4 Badgers their second loss of the season.

In their 2022 match, the Badgers and Gators shattered the indoor NCAA regular-season attendance record with 16,833 fans in the Kohl Center. In its most recent match, Wisconsin one-upped itself and broke the same record again with 17,037 fans packed in Fiserv Forum to witness the Badgers take down Marquette. As for the O'Dome in Gainesville, the attendance record of 8,163 hasn't been touched since 1994 — since the facility's renovation, it has a capacity of around 10,500. And the Florida volleyball program is doing everything in its power to sniff the record; concert ticket giveaways, free donuts and handouts will entice fans.