Wednesday November 23, 2011No. 17 Gator Volleyball Closes Regular Season with 20th Sweep of 2011
The No. 17 Florida volleyball team finished the regular season with its seventh straight win, sweeping South Carolina in three sets (25-14, 25-16, 25-20) on Wednesday evening. Florida improves to 24-5 on the season and finishes 17-3 in SEC play. The Gators are undefeated when playing three sets, going a flawless 20-0. UF finishes the season tied for second in the SEC, as Kentucky failed to clinch a share of the SEC title after falling to 2011 SEC Champion Tennessee in four sets this evening.
Florida hit .457 on the match, led by senior Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.), who registered her 20th double-digit kill performance of the season with 11 kills. She added eight digs for 13.0 points on the evening. Fellow senior Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) was right behind her teammate with nine kills to go along with 16 assists, scoring 11.0 points against the Gamecocks. Florida’s middles were flawless once again, as Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) and Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) combined to go .600 with 12 kills on 20 swings. Senior Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) contributed seven kills on .455 hitting while junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) tied her season-high hitting percentage with .714 (5-0-7).
On the defensive end, the Gators were led by redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.), who had one of her best matches of the season with a match-high 14 digs and only one reception error out of 17 attempts. Unroe received more serves than any other player on both sides of the net. Sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished a match-high 21 assists against the Gamecocks, combining with Murphy for the Gators’ fifth match with .400+ hitting efficiency.
“I think that offensively right now, we lead the nation in our hitting efficiency and tonight was no different,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “A lot of this happens because of Taylor Unroe and her serve receive and the work with Holly (Pole), Stephanie (Ferrell) and Kristy (Jaeckel), but we’re pretty good with our sideout offense. Teams just have a hard time running points on us when we pass, set and hit as well as we do, and did tonight.”
The last regular season start for the Gators began with a rally against the Gamecocks for the first several points. A Jaeckel bullet down the line put her behind the service line for an ace that drove the Orange and Blue on a 6-0 run, 10-4. Brown set up Ferrell for an attack that shut the Gamecocks down for another six straight points with Smith serving, giving the Gators a 16-5 advantage. Mann drove a Murphy set into the South Carolina defense, pushing Florida ahead, 19-7. The Gamecocks battled, but came up short after an Anderson-Murphy block put the Orange and Blue two points from the set win at 23-12. Murphy ended the first frame with an attack that left South Carolina stunned, 25-14. Murphy’s set-winning attack marked her 1,500th point of her career.
Florida eased into the second frame with a 4-0 start. The Gamecocks tried to put together an offense that could break through the Florida defense, but a Smith-Murphy block assured them it would be no easy task, 8-3. A Jaeckel service ace pushed the Orange and Blue ahead, 11-5, and a Ferrell solo stuff increased the lead to 13-6. South Carolina managed to rattle up the Gators, and took advantage of the opportunity with a 5-0 run to decrease the Florida lead to 15-12. Wiggs slammed one through the seam in the block to give the Gators a 19-14 lead. Ferrell ended the second set with a bullet down the line, giving Florida the 25-16 set win and a 2-0 advantage going into intermission.
Coming out of intermission was a competitive South Carolina team that fought for every point. The Gamecocks took an early 3-0 run that put them ahead of the Orange and Blue, 5-2. Florida continued to trail the Gamecocks until a Murphy attack tied the set at 10-10. The Gators failed to take the lead and were forced into a timeout after South Carolina’s 4-0 run, 14-10. A Gamecock service error ignited a spark in the Orange and Blue that drove them on a 7-0 run with Unroe behind the service line to take their first lead of the third set, 22-19. Back-to-back Jaeckel kills put Florida one point from the match win, and Murphy delivered the final attack that secured the victory at 25-20.
The Gators now wait to learn their postseason fate. The NCAA selection show airs live at 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 27th on ESPNU.
“We look at it in terms of a regular season where we have won 24 matches; that is a terrific season,” Wise said. “Would we love to have a couple back? Sure. There is not a blip on the screen. Those are five losses— all top 20 teams. What we haven’t done is a no-show. This team has come and battled every night. There have been some nights where the other team is better and that happens in athletics, but it wasn’t because we didn’t compete in those matches.”
Match Stat Leaders
- Kills: Kristy Jaeckel (11)
- Attacks: Kristy Jaeckel (22)
- Hitting Percentage: Tangerine Wiggs (.714)
- Assists: Chanel Brown (21)
- Digs: Taylor Unroe (14)
- Service Aces: Jaeckel/Unroe (2)
- Block Solo: Ferrell/Mann/Smith (1)
- Block Assists: Wiggs/Mann/Murphy (2)
- Total Blocks: Chloe Mann (3)
Bet on Betsy
- Betsy Smith went 5-for-9 in errorless play tonight, hitting .556, to earn her seventh errorless match of the season.
- Teammate Chloe Mann is second in flawless matches, earning her fifth errorless match of the season (with 10-or-more attacks), going 7-for-7 with a .636 clip. She has made 13 total errorless appearances.
- Tangerine Wiggs tied her season-best hitting percentage, going 5-for-7 with a .714 efficiency
- Betsy Smith earned her second assist and service ace of the season, both career highs.
Gators in the Record Books
- Kelly Murphy’s nine kills in the match moved her past Lyra Vance ’87 into ninth all-time at UF with 1,251 career kills.
- Kristy Jaeckel became the 21st Gator in school history to join the 800 digs club, notching eight in tonight’s match for a career total of 806.
- With her set-winning kill in the first frame, Kelly Murphy became the ninth player in UF history to score 1,500 career points. In the second stanza, Kristy Jaeckel reached the same milestone. The senior duo now is just a half point apart in the ninth and 10th place as Jaeckel has 1,508.0 career points and Murphy has 1,507.5.
- Tangerine Wiggs notched her 400th career kill in the match, recording seven on the night.
- The Gators are now 812-174 (.824) all-time
- Mary Wise is 737-137 (.843) in her career and 656-74 (.899) at Florida
- The Orange and Blue are 349-37 (.904) in SEC play, including 323-15 (.956) under Coach Wise
- The Gators are now 46-7 all-time against the Tigers and 41-2 under Coach Wise
- UF is 398-56 (.877) at home, 339-21 (.942) with Coach Wise on the sideline
- Florida is 648-72 (.900) while ranked and 706-90 (.887) vs. unranked opponents