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Friday October 24, 2008No. 8/7 Volleyball Wins Five-Set Thriller at LSU

Baton Rouge, LA

Freshman Florida right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) notched her 10th consecutive double-double Friday with a career-high 19 kills on .395 hitting and the No. 8/7 Gators overcame a 2-1 deficit for a 3-2 (19-25, 26-24, 30-32, 25-23, 15-9) win in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

 

The Gators (17-1, 11-0 Southeastern Conference) improve to 3-0 this season in five-set matches. Florida recorded double-digit team blocks for the second consecutive match, posting 10.0 blocks in the contest. The Gators were valiant in their comeback, winning despite being out-blocked 17-10 and out-dug 70-64.

 

Murphy dished out 20 assists to complement her 19 kills and just barely missed her fourth triple-double, finishing with eight digs. She recorded a career-high 20.0 points in the match. Sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) tied her career high with 12 digs to go along with nine kills and three blocks.

 

“This was a great SEC road win,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We were able to make enough plays in the second, fourth and fifth sets in order to win. This match was as close as it could have gotten. LSU made us a better team tonight. They played really well and Brittnee Cooper played like an All-American in this match.”

 

Freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) dished out a career-high 30 assists in the match to complement seven digs. Freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) registered nine kills and tied her career highs in both service aces (3) and digs (9). Sophomore middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) charted eight kills, while redshirt freshman outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) had seven kills and six digs.

 

Junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) moved into sole possession of second place on the school’s all-time digs list with 17 scoops in the match. She increased her career total to 1,401. She also provided a number of key service runs in the match. Cusack did not commit a service error in the match, recording a perfect 1.000 serving percentage on 31 service attempts with two aces.

 

Junior middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) posted a team-high six blocks in the match, while freshman middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) had a career-high five kills and also posted four blocks.

 

LSU raced out to a 6-1 advantage to begin the first set that forced Wise to burn an early timeout. Out of the break, the Tigers’ Elena Martinez committed a service error and Ward followed with a kill to spark a 4-1 run by the Gators that brought them within two, 7-5. LSU responded with two consecutive points to widen its advantage back to four, 9-5, after back-to-back kills by Sam Dabbs and Michele Williams. Rivers answered with a kill of her own and the Tigers were called for illegal contact to bring Florida back within two, 9-7. LSU then ran off five consecutive points to extend its lead out to seven, 14-7.

 

Out of the break, behind the service of Williams, the Tigers scored two more points before she committed a service error to end the LSU scoring spree with the Tigers ahead 16-7. With the Gators trailing 17-8, they scored three consecutive points, with the run capped off by a resounding block from Johnson and Ward in the middle. That rally brought Florida to within six, 17-11. The two teams then traded points until the Gators, trailing 21-13, scored four points in a row, including a kill by Rivers and back-to-back put-downs on the right side by Murphy, to cut within four, 21-17, heading into a Tiger timeout. Out of the break, Florida put together a 3-1 run to come within three, 22-19. LSU then scored the final three points of the set to take a 25-19 first-set victory. Florida hit .000 in the opening set, compared to LSU’s .143.

 

Florida opened the second set on a 5-0 tear behind the strong serving of Ward. The Tigers responded by scoring three of the next four points to cut within three, 6-3, before a resounding kill by Murphy on the right side stopped the scoring streak. LSU then ran off three of the next four points to cut within two, 8-6. A put-down by the Tigers’ Angela Bensend brought them as close as one, 8-7, before an Anderson kill stopped the rally and put the Gators back up by two, 9-7. With Florida leading 9-8, Bledsoe and Ward recorded back-to-back kills in the middle and LSU followed with an attack error to extend the Gators’ advantage to four, 12-8. With Florida ahead 12-9, Johnson served a kill and the Tigers followed with a ball-handling error. Ward capped off the 3-0 UF run with an ace that forced LSU head coach Fran Flory to burn a timeout with her team trailing 15-9.

 

The two teams traded points until the Gators committed three consecutive errors and the Tigers followed with a kill to allow them to cut within two, 17-15. Florida then ran off two consecutive points to go up by four, 19-15. With the Gators in front 19-17, the two squads traded points until the LSU’s Britnee Cooper recorded a kill and followed with a block solo to cut within one, 20-19. Johnson then committed an attack error to allow the Tigers to knot the score at 20-all. Murphy registered a kill off the block to let Florida re-gain the advantage at 21-20. Ward then followed with an ace to put the Gators ahead 22-20 and force Flory to burn a timeout. Ward served an ace out of the timeout and Cooper committed an attack error to bring Florida to set point at 24-20. The Tigers then staved off two attempts at set point to force Wise to use a timeout, up 24-22. An LSU block and a Jaeckel attack error tied the score at 24-all. Murphy drilled a kill down the middle to put the Gators up 25-24 and then Murphy drilled an overpass down the middle on the next play to give Florida a 26-24 second-set victory.

 

The strong serving of Cusack allowed the Gators to open up to a 7-2 advantage to start the third set, as the run was capped off by a kill on the angle by Murphy heading into an LSU timeout. After a put-down by the Tigers stopped UF’s scoring streak, Murphy and Bledsoe recorded back-to-back kills to extend the Gators’ lead to six, 9-3. The two teams then traded points until consecutive kills by Anderson, Bledsoe and Ward extended Florida’s advantage to 13-5. The Tigers then ran off four consecutive points, due in large part to their blocking, to cut within four, 13-9, and force Wise to use a timeout. LSU continued to thrive, scoring the next two consecutive points to come within two, 13-11, before a Bledsoe put-down stopped the streak. A net violation against the Gators and an attack error by Murphy whittled the Tigers’ deficit down to one, 14-13. A kill by Cooper knotted the score at 14-14. After three more ties, LSU scored two in a row to take a 19-17 lead.

 

With Florida trailing 20-18, Jaeckel registered a kill on the outside to bring the Gators to within one, 20-19. With Florida down 21-19, LSU committed a service error and Jaeckel notched a kill to again tie the score, this time at 21-21. Back-to-back kills by the Tigers put them ahead 23-21 and forced Wise to use another timeout. An LSU service error brought UF to within one, 23-22, but a Cooper kill on the next play put the Tigers at set point 24-22. Back-to-back kills by Rivers and Murphy knotted the score at 24-24 and forced Flory to use a timeout. Out of the break, Anderson and Murphy recorded a block, but the Tigers charted a kill on the next play to re-tie the score. A Washington attack on the next play found the floor to put LSU at set point at 26-25.

 

An attack error by the Tigers, much to the dismay of the fans, again tied the score at 26-all before a Washington kill brought LSU to set point at 27-26. Another attack error by the Tigers knotted the score but they regrouped with a kill on the next play. An LSU service error tied the score at 28-28 before a Cooper attack error put Florida at set point at 29-28, but Cooper again followed with a kill to re-knot the score at 29-all. Dabbs served an ace for the Tigers to put them ahead 30-29, but a Bledsoe kill on the right side tied the score at 30-all. A Cooper kill gave LSU a 31-30 advantage and Washington drilled a kill on the angle to allow the Tigers to take a 32-30 third-set victory.

 

The Gators opened to a 6-2 advantage to begin the fourth set. From there, the two teams began trading points before LSU, which was down 9-5, ran off three straight points to cut within one, 9-8. Back-to-back errors by the Tigers put Florida back ahead by three, 11-8. The teams then continued to trade points until a Murphy kill and a Dabbs attack error extended the Gators’ advantage to four, 15-11. A Jaeckel put-down capped off the 4-1 run and put Florida ahead 17-12 heading into an LSU timeout.

 

Two consecutive kills by the Tigers’ Williams and an LSU block whittled its deficit down to two, 17-15. With the Tigers down three, 18-15, after a Williams attack error, LSU ran off two consecutive points to cut within one, 18-17, heading into a Florida break. Out of the timeout, LSU’s Williams served an ace to knot the score at 18-all. After another tie at 19-19, Jaeckel and Ward registered consecutive kills to put the Gators back up by two, 21-19. A kill by LSU’s Cooper and a Ward attack error again knotted the score, this time at 21-all. Murphy registered a kill on the right side and then a short serve by Cusack on the next play trickled over the net for an ace to give Florida a 23-21 advantage. Cusack followed with another ace to put Florida at set point 24-21 thanks to her outstanding service run. The Tigers staved off two attempts at set point to cut within one, 24-23, and force Wise to use her second timeout of the set. A kill by Ward on the outside out of the break gave Florida a 25-23 fourth-set win.

 

The Gators took a 4-1 advantage in the deciding set after back-to-back kills by Johnson and Ward and an attack error by LSU’s Washington. After a Jaeckel service error, Murphy and Anderson each notched kills to extend Florida’s advantage to four, 6-2. With the Gators in front 6-3, Murphy and Ward each registered kills to go up by five, 8-3. Following a Dabbs kill, Ward recorded a put-down of her own and the Tigers committed an attack error to give Florida a 10-4 lead heading into an LSU timeout.

 

With the Gators up 10-5, Florida ran off two consecutive points to extend their lead to seven, 12-5. The Tigers responded with two points of their own before a Dabbs service error gave the Gators a 13-7 lead. LSU then used another 2-0 run to whittle its deficit down to four, 13-9, and force Wise to use a timeout. A Jaeckel put-down off the block brought UF to match point at 14-9 before a block by Johnson and Ward on the match’s final play gave the Gators the 15-9 victory.

 

Florida returns to action on Sunday when it travels to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. Opening serve in the Ramsey Student Center is slated for 1:30 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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