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Saturday August 30, 2008Jaeckel Claims MVP Honors as Florida Beats Pacific

Gainesville, FL

Florida redshirt freshman Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) claimed Most Valuable Player honors at the Aquafina Invitational, leading the No. 8/8 Gators with 12 kills on an impressive .786 hitting percentage in a 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 25-18) win against Pacific on Saturday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The Gators (2-0) defeated the Tigers (0-2) for the first time in program history after UOP won the first six meetings in the series. With the win against Pacific, Florida head coach Mary Wise has now beaten every team she has faced in her tenure with the Gators at least once.

Jaeckel’s .786 hitting percentage is the third-highest hitting percentage (min. 12 kills) in a single match in school history in the rally-scoring era. She becomes the only non-middle blocker in the rally-scoring era to hit better than .760 in a match for the Gators. For the weekend, Jaeckel averaged 3.86 kills per set on .345 hitting, while also averaging 1.57 digs per set and totaling six blocks and three service aces. She averaged 4.75 points per set in two matches in the Aquafina Invitational.

Freshman right-side hitter/setter Kelly Murphy (Joliet, Ill.), who also was named to the All-Tournament Team, finished with eight kills on .438 hitting with 19 assists, a match-high 19 assists and two blocks. Freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) added seven kills, nine digs and three blocks, while sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) chipped in six kills. Freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) dished out 16 assists and sophomore Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) had a team-high four blocks.

“As predicted, we thought Pacific would be a much better team than they were yesterday,” Wise said. “It really all started with their great jump server Svenja Engelhardt. I think for our team, we can use this as training to always talk about comparing great servers to her. Tonight, we used a lineup that we had practiced the least with Lauren Bledsoe playing middle and Kristy Jaeckel playing right, and those two just had a great match.”

Junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.), who was named to the All-Tournament Team, recorded nine digs, which increased her career total to 1,150 and moved her past Jenni Keene (1994-98) for sole possession of eighth place on the school’s all-time digs list. Cusack also had three service aces in the match to give her seven aces for the weekend.

“Elyse is both the offensive and defensive line for us,” Wise said. “Offensively, she is the one who initiates the offense and, in terms of defense, we rely on her to dig balls. Because there are so many new players, she is the constant. More than just skill, Elyse provides leadership. She is off to a terrific junior season.”

Pacific broke out to a 6-1 lead in the first set, forcing Wise to burn a timeout. A kill by Rivers stopped the Tigers’ scoring streak and Cusack followed with four consecutive service points to allow the Gators to knot the score at 6-6 after another kill by Rivers. After six more ties, Pacific ran off three consecutive points to take a 17-14 advantage on a kill by Natalia Tomasewska kill. A kill by Murphy started a 3-1 run for the Gators that put them within one, 18-17. Two Tiger attack errors sandwiched in between a Jaeckel kill put the Gators ahead 20-19 and forced a Pacific timeout. Out of the break, the Tigers recorded two consecutive attack errors to allow Florida to extend its lead to 22-19. The Gators closed out the set with a 25-21 victory.

The Gators and Tigers battled closely to begin the second set before two consecutive errors by Pacific put Florida ahead 13-10 heading into a timeout by the Tigers. UOP rallied to knot the score at 14-all on an attack error by Jaeckel and, after three more ties, the Tigers’ Svenja Engelhardt and Masha Vaysburg notched consecutive kills to give Pacific a 20-18 advantage. A kill by Rivers stopped the scoring streak and the Gators were able to tie the score at 23-all after a ball-handling error by Shannon Krug. After two more ties, a Ward ace and a Tiger attack error gave Florida a 27-25 win.

Florida quickly went up 7-5 in the third set after a kill by Rivers. Cusack then followed with three consecutive service points to extend the Gators’ advantage to 10-5. After a Pacific kill, Murphy registered a kill of her own to give Florida an 11-6 lead. UF continued rolling to a 17-12 advantage after a kill by Bledsoe that forced a Pacific timeout. With the Gators leading 21-18 after a Murphy put-down, Ward served up four consecutive points, including the match-clincher on a Murphy kill to allow the Gators to take a 25-18 victory.

Florida returns to action Friday when it plays host to Jacksonville on the first day of the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 and GatorVision Online.

AQUAFINA INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
MVP - Kristy Jaeckel, Florida
Elyse Cusack, Florida
Kelly Murphy, Florida
Jillian Mitchell, Western Michigan
Katie Eberling, Western Michigan
Svenja Engelhardt, Pacific
Savannah Pegg, UAB

END OF REPORT

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