Sunday October 9, 2011Stellar Back Row Play Leads No. 13 Gators to Sweep of LSU
The No. 13 Florida volleyball team had one of its best defensive performances of the season, registering 52 digs in a 3-set sweep of LSU, 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-8). The Gators (13-3, 6-1 SEC) held the Tigers to .027 hitting percentage, the lowest SEC opponent hitting percentage since Florida held Alabama to a .021 hitting clip on Sept. 27, 2009.
“We asked the team before the match if we could match LSU’s defensive efforts,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Obviously our team answered the call. It was our best floor defense performance of the season. There were some great rallies. Balls that I thought, everybody thought, were dead balls, the players just kept them in play. Some really good things happened in that match. LSU’s great offensive players never really got on track.”
The Gators held all of LSU’s hitters to single-digit kills, as three Tigers hit negative and no player hit above .333, despite Florida not registering a single block until the third set. The play of redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) proved to be a difference maker for the Gators, registering 16 digs, her highest dig output in a sweep this season.
“Taylor has such game to her,” Wise said. “She took some extra reps yesterday. She felt like she left some digs on the court Friday night and asked for some extra work, and she brought that work ethic. She saw the game from a defensive standpoint the way she (usually) sees it in terms of serve receive. Taylor had a great match today.”
Florida was led by senior outside hitters Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) with 11 kills apiece. Jaeckel led the Gators with three service aces, tying her season high. Junior right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) had her second errorless performance of the season with eight kills on 13 swings, hitting a match-high .615.
Freshman defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) had a fantastic night in the back court, registering eight digs. Wiggs, along with middle blockers Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), posted two blocks each for the Gators. The Gators hit .368 in the match, courtesy of 38 combined assists by senior Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) and sophomore Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.).
The first set began with a rally but Florida quickly took over the momentum thanks to a kill by Wiggs, sparking a 5-0 run with Ferrell behind the service line, 6-2. The Gators continued to pound away, forcing a timeout at 13-5 after a Ferrell blast in the center of the Tigers’ defense. Coming out of the timeout, LSU clawed its way back into the set with a 4-0 run, reducing the Florida lead to 13-9. A Wiggs kill ignited a 4-0 run to extend the lead, 21-14. A Jaeckel service ace put the Gators at set point, and Ferrell finished off the frame with the final strike, 25-16.
The second set started in favor of the Gators, as Smith slammed the first point into the Tiger defense. A combination of good communication and great defense kept the Gators rallying for each point. Murphy set Wiggs for an attack that pushed the lead to 6-3. The Tigers fought back and were able to tie the score at 12 The teams continued to rally before Florida called its first timeout at 21-21. Ferrell’s back-to-back kills put the Gators at set point and forced LSU into a timeout, 24-23. A Tiger attacking error ended the set, 25-23, with the Orange and Blue going into intermission with a 2-0 advantage.
The Tigers took an initial 2-0 lead over the Gators to begin the third stanza. A blast from Murphy sparked Florida on a 3-0 run and took its first lead of the set, 3-2. The Tigers battled and tied the score at 3, but the Gators took the lead and never looked back. Florida’s first block of the match proved to be the trigger for the Gators, as UF ended the set on a 19-5 run. A Smith kill sparked Florida’s largest run of the match, as the Gators scored eight straight points behind Jaeckel’s serve. All eight of Florida’s block assists came in the third set, as LSU hit -.161. The Gators took the set and the match, 25-8.
“Our goal as a team tonight was to come out and match their defensive energy,” Unroe said. “They are one of the top teams in SEC defensively, and they have a great libero. So, our goal was just to come out and match that, and turns out we’re a lot scrappier (than we thought). That was our goal and we definitely succeeded. It was a great game all around.”
Florida hits the road for another SEC West road trip, taking on the Ole Miss Rebels at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 14th. Cory Stephens will be broadcasting live on Sportsradio 850. The Gators then head to Alabama to face the Crimson Tide on Sunday, October 16th. The match airs live on FOX SportSouth at 2 p.m. with the radio broadcast on Country 103.7 The Gator.
The University of Florida is home to the 2011 NCAA Volleyball Regional. To order 2011 regular season and NCAA Regional tickets, log on to http://www.GatorZone.com/tickets.
For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/Volleyball or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida volleyball on Twitter at @GatorZoneVB or www.twitter.com/GatorZoneVB and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at @GatorMary or www.twitter.com/GatorMary. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.
Match Stat Leaders
- Kills: Stephanie Ferrell/Kristy Jaeckel (11)
- Attacks: Stephanie Ferrell (24)
- Hitting Percentage: Tangerine Wiggs (.615)
- Assists: Kelly Murphy (21)
- Digs: Taylor Unroe (16)
- Block Solo: None
- Block Assists: Smith/Anderson/Wiggs (2)
- Total Blocks: Smith/Anderson/Wiggs (2)
Jaeckel’s Double-Digit Streak Continues
- Kristy Jaeckel, the AVCA National Player of the Week and SEC Offensive Player of the Week, continued to shine up front, smashing 11 kills this afternoon to extend her double-digit kill streak to 11 straight matches
- As a team, the Gators hit over .300 for the eighth time this season, combining to go 39-7-87 for a .368 efficiency while holding the Tigers to just .027
- For the second straight match, four individuals hit over .300 and no one hit below .000.
SEC Single-Digit Scoring
- The Gators defeated LSU 25-8 in the third set, holding an opponent to single digits for the second time this season (Jacksonville, 25-6)
- The last time Florida held an SEC team to single digits in a set was on Nov. 11, 2010, defeating Mississippi State, 25-7, in the first set
- Tangerine Wiggs tied her career high, set at Stanford, with five digs this afternoon
- Kristy Jaeckel tied her career best, recording three service aces for the second time this season and the seventh time in her career
Gators in the Record Books
- Cassandra Anderson’s two block assists move her ahead of Jenni Patterson ’89 and into sole possession of eighth place with a total of 349 career BA
- Her two blocks also moved her into a tie with Angie McGinnis ’07 for eighth in total career blocks, with 388
- Kelly Murphy earned her 2,300th career assist this afternoon, becoming the ninth Gator to do so. She now has a total of 2,306
- The Gators are now 801-172 (.823) all-time
- Mary Wise is 726-135 (.843) in her career and 645-72 (.900) at Florida
- The Orange and Blue are 338-35 (.906) in SEC play, including 314-13 (.960) under Coach Wise
- The Gators are now 33-13 (.717) all-time against the Tigers and 30-5 (.857) under Coach Wise
- UF is 392-56 (.875) at home
- Florida is 637-70 (.901) while ranked and 695-90 (.885) vs. unranked opponents