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Sunday September 28, 2008Strong All-Around Performance Leads Volleyball to Hard-Fought Win

Oxford, MS

Three Florida volleyball players tallied double-doubles Sunday, led by redshirt freshman Kristy Jaeckel’s (Littleton, Colo.) match-high 19 kills and 11 digs, and the No. 10/10 Gators demonstrated timely defense in one of the team’s best all-around victories of the season - a 3-1 (22-25, 25-12, 25-20, 25-20) win against Ole Miss in the Gillom Sports Center.


The Gators (10-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) responded from a first-set loss to hit .300 in the match and out-dig the Rebels (6-6, 2-1 SEC) 65-43. Florida’s 65 digs as a team are a season high.


“I think folks around the country will look at this as a 3-1 win against Ole Miss and maybe not pay much attention to it,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “But anyone who was in this building today understands how well we had to play to beat Ole Miss, one of the hardest-working teams we will face all season.”


Jaeckel notched her second consecutive double-double and accomplished the feat for the third time in her young career. Jaeckel’s 19 kills came on .326 hitting with a career-high-tying 11 digs. Freshman right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) came close to becoming the first player in school history to tally back-to-back triple-doubles. After notching her first career triple-double on Friday night, Murphy tallied 13 kills on .296 hitting with a career-high 29 assists and nine digs on Sunday against Ole Miss.


Freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) finished with 11 kills on .364 hitting with five digs, while senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) charted her finest offensive match of the season with a season-high eight kills on 11 swings for a .545 hitting efficiency with a match-high-tying three blocks. Bowers has either led or tied for the team lead in blocks in each of the squad’s last four matches.


Sophomore middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) recorded seven kills – one shy of her season high – and tied for the team lead in blocks with three. Bledsoe has charted three or more blocks on five occasions this season.


Junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) charted a season-high 22 digs to lead three Florida players who tallied double-figure dig totals. Cusack, who ranks sixth on the school’s all-time career digs list, increased her career total to 1,293 scoops. Freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) dished out a career-high 26 assists and posted a career-high 10 digs.


Florida broke a 4-4 tie to open the first set with a block solo by Bledsoe and an ace by Bowers that put the Gators ahead 6-4. After the two teams traded points, the Rebels, trailing 7-5, ran off three consecutive points to take an 8-7 advantage. Jaeckel and junior middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) stopped the Ole Miss scoring streak when they posted a powerful block on the outside to knot the score at 8-8. After another tie at 9, the Rebels reclaimed the lead at 12-9 after a 3-0 run. With Ole Miss leading 15-12, the Rebels committed a service error and Jaeckel followed with a block solo to cut Florida’s deficit to one, 15-14.


After the Gators and Rebels traded points, Ole Miss charted back-to-back kills from Regina Thomas and Caitlin Weiss to extend its advantage to 18-15 and force Wise to burn a timeout. Out of the break, Ward registered a kill on the outside, but Ole Miss ran off three consecutive points to go up 21-16 heading into a Florida timeout. The Rebels extended their lead to six, 23-17, following a block solo. With the Gators trailing 24-18, Jaeckel and Bledsoe notched back-to-back kills and Ole Miss followed with an attack error to cut Florida’s deficit to three, 24-21. That run caused UM head coach Joe Getzin to burn a timeout. Jaeckel had a kill off hands to bring the Gators within two, 24-22, but Ole Miss closed out the 25-22 first-set victory.


Florida opened to a 3-1 lead in the second set, as the set-opening run was highlighted by a Cusack ace. Ole Miss hung tough and, with the Gators leading 5-4, Bledsoe ripped a kill down the line and Johnson followed with a put-down in the middle to widen UF’s lead to 7-4. After the two teams traded points, Johnson and Murphy notched back-to-back put-downs to extend the Gators’ advantage to 11-7 and force an Ole Miss timeout. A service error by the Rebels and a block solo by Bledsoe gave UF a 14-8 lead.


The Gators extended that run to 9-1 and the scoring streak was highlighted by three kills from Ward and an ace by Murphy to put Florida ahead 22-8. With the Gators in front 23-12, Jaeckel registered a put-down to bring Florida to set point before an Ole Miss attack error closed out the 25-12 second-set win for UF. The Gators hit an impressive .600 in the second set.


The Rebels took a 7-4 advantage to begin the third set heading into a Florida timeout. Murphy drilled a kill on the angle out of the timeout and Ward followed with a kill two plays later to cut the Gators’ deficit to two at 8-6. With Florida trailing 9-6, the Gators ran off two consecutive points thanks to Ole Miss errors that brought them within one at 9-8. With Ole Miss ahead 11-9, Jaeckel posted a kill and Murphy charted back-to-back put-downs to give Florida its first lead of the set at 12-11.


After two more ties, Bowers and Bledsoe charted kills on consecutive plays to extend UF’s advantage to 15-13. The Rebels ran off two straight points to knot the score at 15-15 before Bowers and Jaeckel answered with back-to-back kills to allow the Gators to reclaim the lead at 17-15 heading into a timeout. The two teams traded points before Florida ran off two consecutive points after a put-down by Jaeckel and an Ole Miss attack error to go up 21-18. Out of the break, Murphy and Ward posted back-to-back kills to extend UF’s lead to five, 23-18. A put-down by Murphy gave Florida the 25-20 third-set win.


Ole Miss broke to a 3-1 lead in the fourth set before Ward, Murphy and Bowers each tallied kills on consecutive plays to give the Gators a 4-3 advantage. Florida kept rolling to an 8-5 advantage after a kill from Bowers and an attack error by the Rebels. With Ole Miss trailing 9-6, the Rebels ran off two consecutive points before a kill by Ward ended the scoring streak. The Gators and Rebels began trading points before Ole Miss, trailing 13-11, scored three of the set’s next four points to knot the score at 14-14. Bledsoe recorded a put-down in the middle to break the Rebels’ scoring streak and then she teamed with Bowers for a block on the next play to put UF ahead 16-14.


With the Gators leading 16-15, Florida scored three consecutive points, capped off by a Jaeckel kill off the block to put UF in front 19-15. Ole Miss responded with a 2-0 run of its own before a Jaeckel put-down on the outside stopped the scoring streak. The Rebels hung tough at 21-19 before Johnson drilled a kill down the middle to put Florida ahead 22-19 and force Getzin to burn a timeout. Ahead 22-20, Bowers and Murphy teamed for a block and Bledsoe and Ward followed with kills to give UF a 25-20 win.


Ole Miss was led by Thomas’ 14 kills on .458 hitting with four blocks.


The Gators now lead the all-time series with the Rebels 33-3, including a 27-0 mark under Wise. Ole Miss is one of six SEC teams that Wise has never lost to during her Florida coaching career.


Florida returns to action on Friday, when it travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face Alabama. Opening serve in The CAVE is slated for 8 p.m. EDT and the match will be carried live on ROCK 104 with Tom Collett.


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