The Bulldogs huddle together before the start of the match. On Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, the University of Georgia volleyball team was defeated by the University of Florida in straight sets. (Photo: Conor Dillon / dillon.conor11@gmail.com)

The Georgia volleyball team was swept by Florida: 14-25, 17-25, 24-26 Wednesday evening in front of 2,290 fans at Stegeman Coliseum. It was the first SEC match at home for the Bulldogs this season.

Georgia was wildly noncompetitive through the first two sets. Florida took the first set 25-14. The score remained close as The Bulldogs kept it close at the beginning of the first set, with Florida leading 9-8, but the Gators buried the Bulldogs with a 10-1 run to win the frame.

Although Georgia scored more points in the second set, it featured even more domination by Florida, with the Gators leading by as much as 23-12 before the Bulldogs went on a futile late run to lose the second set 25-17.

Georgia has struggled early in many of this season's matches, and typically has failed to regroup after falling behind. This time, however, after dropping two sets to their conference rivals through two sets, something changed for the Bulldogs.

"I'm sick of losing," said junior Amber Stivrins. "We have a tendency to start slow, and that has been super frustrating."

Leading her team by example, Stivrins and the Bulldogs channeled that frustration into a third-set performance that was completely different from Georgia’s play showcased earlier in the match.

Although Georgia ultimately dropped the set, 26-24, the Bulldogs fought hard in a back-and-forth final frame. Stivrins and senior Kayla Rivera each had four kills, and junior Kacie Evans had three. Georgia also recorded four blocks in the third set after putting up zero in the first two periods.

Despite the Bulldogs’ struggles through most of the match, the third set allowed Georgia to leave Stegeman Coliseum on a high note and offered hope for the rest of the season.

"We played Georgia volleyball [in the third set]," Evans said. "We were keeping balls off the net. We were blocking a lot more balls and getting more touches. We were being more aggressive on our swings. That's Georgia volleyball, and that's who we should have been in the first two sets."

The Bulldogs drop to 4-9 overall and 0-2 in conference play. Georgia can establish the tone early in future matches with its next opportunity coming Oct. 2 on the road at 6 p.m. against the Arkansas Razorbacks.