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Evans' record day leads Georgia to sweep of Missouri

2 days ago
Georgia Athletics
Photo: Georgia Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Georgia volleyball team swept the Missouri Tigers in straight sets in the regular season finale at Stegeman Coliseum Saturday afternoon (25-18, 25-17, 25-19) in front of a crowd of 1,771.

Georgia concludes the regular season 19-11 and 10-8 in SEC play, finishing in a three-way tie for fourth place with Florida and Auburn. Georgia will await Sunday's NCAA Tournament selection show, airing live on ESPN at 6 p.m., ET. The Bulldogs will look to make back-to-back tournament appearances for the first time since 1994 and 1995.

Prior to the match, senior student-athletes Kacie Evans, Mallory Downing, Erica Staunton, and Mackenzie Norris were honored as part of Senior Day.

In the third set, Evans broke Georgia's all-time sets played record, playing in 514 sets as a Bulldog. She broke Sue Ushela's record of 513 from 1981-84.

Evans and Sophie Fischer co-led the Dogs' offense, putting up 11 kills each. Staunton added eight of her own with a .438 hitting clip on the outside. Georgia hit a season-best .386 against the Tigers. UGA recorded 10 service aces in the match, led by three from Fischer and two each from Bailey Cox, Estelle Haugen, and Evans.

Defensively, Georgia put up 14 total blocks. Fischer led the charge with a season-best 10 followed by five each from Ceci Gooch and Clara Brower. Cox and Brower each put up eight digs while Brower handed out 34 assists.

Georgia went ahead early in the first, 8-3. Still ahead five at 12-7, Georgia forced a Missouri (17-12, 9-9) timeout. Missouri cut the lead to two, but back-to-back blocks, a Haugen ace, and an Evans kill brought Georgia's lead to six, prompting the Tigers' final break. Georgia kept the offense rolling, finishing the first set on a 4-1 run, 25-18. Georgia's six first set blocks held Missouri to a .088 hitting percentage.

It was all Bulldogs in the second set as Georgia hit .536 in the frame with Evans tallying six kills and Fischer with five. Another strong start saw Georgia go up 6-2. The offense kept rolling, keeping the Tigers at bay, and going up 17-12, prompting a Missouri timeout. Ahead 22-17, Georgia won the next three to win the set 25-17.

Set three was the closest of the match, featuring five ties and five lead changes. After Georgia jumped out in front 3-1, Missouri responded with four straight to take its first lead of the match, 5-3. Georgia won seven of the next nine points to go back in front 10-7. The Tigers continued to fight, but never took the lead again, as Georgia led by as much as five heading down the stretch, 19-14. Missouri cut the lead late, 21-19, but Georgia won the next four points to complete the Saturday sweep, 25-19.

Head Coach Tom Black
On the keys to getting the win against Missouri... "Our serve and pass game was really strong, and our passing really picked up. We were able to a lot of pressure on the point-scoring side."

On what the seniors mean to the team... "It is hard to put that into words. This program has been a rebuild on a rebuild. These seniors have been with it through both phases. They have been through the highs and the lows. It is huge to get this win and give us a chance to get back into the postseason. They mean everything as people and players."

#12 Clara Brower | S | Jr.
On what the seniors mean to this team... "I think this senior class is special. They have meant a lot to not just me, but everyone else on this team. Each one of them plays a huge role and it is hard to imagine Georgia Volleyball without them. It is emotional, but I am really happy I got to play their last year with them."

On what was key for the win tonight.... "I think our serving was awesome. Our out-of-system and blocking was incredible, as well as our defense. Our defense really helped us do a great job.

#2 Sophie Fischer | MB | Sr.
On what the seniors mean to the team... "The seniors are everything to this team. Erica came in and she's just the absolute best. There's nothing I could say bad about her. She's one of my best friends. I love her. Kacie's provided so much to this program and has done things nobody could ever believe that she would be able to do, but she's unreal. Mallory is just a constant rock for us, and we love her to death. Mackenzie, we hate to see her go so early, but we love her."

On the keys to today's win... "I think our block defense was huge for us at the net and off the net, and then our service pressure was just insane."