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Junior Amber Stivrins sets the ball. On Friday, Aug. 27, 2021 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens Georgia, the University of Georgia volleyball team defeated Morehead State in three straight sets. (Photo: Conor Dillon; dillon.conor11@gmail.com)

The Georgia volleyball team won a five-set match against the University of Central Florida Saturday afternoon on the final day of the UCF Invitational: 25-20, 22-25, 20-25, 25-21, 16-14. The Bulldogs managed to salvage a win after going 0-2 earlier in the weekend.

UCF started strong with a 8-3 lead in the first set, but Georgia flipped the script to win nine of 10 rallies, taking a 12-9 lead for themselves. Although the Knights did their best to mount a comeback, the Bulldogs ran with their momentum and won the first set 25-20.

The second set was almost a mirror image of the first. Georgia established an early 9-3 lead, but UCF rallied to cut the deficit to 12-11 and stuck around to claim the lead at 21-19 late in the frame. The Bulldogs could not hold on and dropped the second set 25-22 to tie the match, 1-1.

Georgia managed to erase an early UCF lead in the third set, but the Knights went on an 11-for-14 run to establish an 18-11 advantage. Despite their best efforts, the Bulldogs could not dig themselves out of that hole and lost 25-20. UCF took a 2-1 match advantage.

The first three sets were highly competitive and the fourth was no different. UCF led 5-1, but Georgia went on a run to tie the score at 7-7. The Knights once again took a substantial lead, but the Bulldogs battled back to put themselves up 20-17 in a must-win set. UCF cut the lead to 21-20, but Georgia killed the rally attempt and took the set 25-21 to force a decisive fifth frame.

After fighting to come back in the fourth set, the Bulldogs refused to give in, bearing down to finish off the Knights in the fifth. An early four-point run gave Georgia a 7-4 lead and forced a UCF timeout. Although the Knights were able to tie the score at 12-12, a kill from junior Amber Stivrins put Georgia up 13-12 and led to a final UCF timeout.

It seemed as if the Knights had turned the tables on the Bulldogs during the break after they tied the score again at 13-13, but a kill from junior Kacie Evans put Georgia back on top and forced match point. UCF tied the set one last time, but the Bulldogs scored the final two points to win the set 16-14 and the match 3-2.

Stivrins and Evans continued their stellar play of late, leading the Georgia offensive attack with 22 and 18 kills. Sophomore Phoebe Awoleye also contributed to the Bulldogs win with 14 kills of her own.

Georgia plays again on Thursday at North Carolina State. The Bulldogs will conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule on Saturday against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.