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Sunday October 5, 2008Volleyball Sweeps Mississippi State to Conclude Road Swing

Starkville, MS

Freshman Florida right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) tied her career-high with 15 kills on .524 hitting for her fifth consecutive double-double and junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) moved into fifth place on UF’s all-time career digs list as the No. 10 Gators swept Mississippi State 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-11) on Sunday in the Newell-Grissom Building.

  

The Gators (12-1, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) concluded their four-match SEC road swing with a perfect 4-0 mark and return home for three matches against Eastern Division foes beginning Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Kentucky in a battle of league unbeatens.

 

“On the road in the SEC, you want to survive and move on,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We looked like, at times today, a team that had played four matches on the road. I thought it was great to win in three and now we will go home and play, on paper, the best team in the SEC.”

 

Cusack finished with 11 digs to increase her career total to 1,324 scoops and allowed her to pass former All-American Aury Cruz, who accumulated 1,320 digs from 2000-03.

 

“Elyse is in elite company to be where she is,” Wise said. “When Aury graduated, we didn’t know if we’d ever have a player who could pass and dig the way she could. I think Elyse is a born libero and we are fortunate that she could come into our program in a time when we could best use her talents.”

 

Murphy notched her eighth double-double of the season with her career-high-tying 15 kills and 13 assists to complement four digs for a team-leading 15.0 points. Redshirt freshman outside hitter/right-side Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) registered double-digit kills for the fifth consecutive match and the 10th time this season with 14 kills and five digs to go along with two service aces.

 

Senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) had five kills on .333 hitting with a season-high three service aces. Freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) dished out a team-high 14 assists and tied her career high with two service aces.

 

Florida hit .337 as a team, as compared to Mississippi State’s .169 hitting efficiency in the match.

 

Mississippi State opened to a 3-1 advantage to begin the first set before Murphy drilled a kill on the angle to spark a 5-1 run that included kills from sophomore middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) and Bowers, and put Florida ahead 6-4. With the Gators leading 6-5, freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) recorded a soft-touch kill and then followed with a service ace to extend Florida’s advantage to three, 8-5. That was the start of a 4-1 run that concluded with back-to-back put-downs from Bowers and Jaeckel, and forced the Bulldogs to burn a timeout. Misssissippi State notched kills on three of the next four plays to cut within two, 11-9, before a Jaeckel kill on the outside ended UF’s scoring drought.

 

A State kill and an illegal contact call against the Gators brought MSU to within one, 12-11. Jaeckel and Murphy responded with back-to-back put-downs to put Florida back up by three, 14-11. The Bulldogs again cut within two at 16-14, but Bowers registered a kill on the slide and Jaeckel followed with a put-down of her own to put the Gators back in front by four, 18-14, heading into another Mississippi State timeout. Leading 19-15, Johnson teamed with Jaeckel for a block on the outside, and then she teamed with Bledsoe for a block on the right side on the next play. Those two blocks sparked a 6-0 run for the Gators that gave them a 25-15 first-set victory. Florida hit an outstanding .452 in the opening frame, compared to MSU’s .182 efficiency.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the second set before the Gators broke a 4-4 tie with 3-0 run that was capped off by back-to-back kills from Rivers, and put Florida ahead 7-4 heading into an MSU timeout. A block by Bowers and sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) gave the Gators an 8-5 advantage before the Bulldogs ran off three consecutive points to knot the score at 8-all.  A Mississippi State service error stopped its scoring spree and Bowers followed with a pair of aces to allow the Gators to reclaim the lead at 11-8. After a Bathelt ace gave Florida a 13-9 advantage, the Bulldogs scored two in a row to cut within two at 13-11.

 

Murphy and freshman middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) had kills on two of the next three plays to give UF a 15-12 lead, but back-to-back attack errors by the Gators allowed State to whittle its deficit down to one, 15-14. Out of a Florida timeout, Bowers was blocked on the slide play and the Bulldogs followed with a kill to take a 16-15 advantage. After two more ties, Jaeckel and Bowers notched back-to-back kills to give the Gators a 19-17 lead. Mississippi State ran off three consecutive points, two of which came at the conclusion of long rallies, and put the Bulldogs back in front at 20-19. Out of the break, a MSU attack error and a kill by Jaeckel off the block gave Florida the lead back at 21-20. Murphy followed with a put-down of her own to extend the Gators’ advantage to 22-20 and force State head coach Tina Seals to burn a timeout. The two teams then traded points before a Jaeckel kill and an attack error by the Bulldogs gave Florida a 25-22 second-set victory.

 

Florida scored the first two points of the third set after a sharp kill by Murphy on the angle and an ace from Jaeckel. The Bulldogs responded with three of the next four points to knot the score at 3-3. The Gators broke a 4-4 tie after a MSU attack error and a kill by Jaeckel on the outside which put Florida ahead 6-4. From there, the Bulldogs ran off three consecutive points to go up 7-6. Following three more ties, Johnson registered a kill in the middle and Jaeckel served an ace on the next play to extend Florida’s lead to 11-9. That was the beginning of a 12-0 run for the Gators that put them ahead 21-9 behind the strong serving of Jaeckel. After a MSU kill, Florida closed the match on a 4-1 run for a 25-11 victory in the third set.

 

Florida now leads the all-time series with Mississippi State 33-0, including a 24-0 mark under Wise. Thirty of the Gators’ 33 victories in the all-time series have come as 3-0 sweeps.

 

Mississippi State (6-10, 1-4 SEC) was led by Ioana Demian’s nine kills.

 

Florida returns to action on Friday when it commences a three-match SEC homestand against Kentucky. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center between the Gators and Wildcats is slated for 7 p.m. EDT and the match will be carried live on WRUF AM-850 with Tom Collett.

 

For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please log on to www.GatorZone.com.

 

END OF REPORT

 

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