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Sunday October 26, 2008Volleyball Falls in Five to Georgia

Athens, GA

Freshman right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) notched her 11th consecutive double-double with 18 kills on .441 hitting with 24 assists and junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) came up with a season-high 38 digs, but No. 8/7 Florida was unable to overcome a strong blocking performance by Georgia in a 3-2 (25-22, 18-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12) loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon in the Ramsey Student Center.


Murphy added a career-high four blocks and two service aces for a career-high 22.0 points to lead the Gators (17-2, 11-1 Southeastern Conference). Georgia won the blocking battle 17.0-8.0 and had three players finish with seven blocks apiece.


“I don’t think we lost this match as much as Georgia won it, and they did it with their blocking,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “The difference in this match was how well they blocked. Georgia is a much improved team from when we played them the first time, and we became very one-dimensional today. Give credit to Georgia, they were the better team this afternoon.”


Three Florida players recorded double-digit kills as sophomore middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledose (Long Beach, Calif.) added 12 kills on .261 hitting and redshirt freshman outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) tallied 11 kills to complement nine digs for 11.5 points.


Cusack, who ranks second all-time at UF in career scoops, increased her career digs total to 1,437, which puts her within six digs of breaking the school’s all-time career digs record.


Senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) had two blocks in the match and moved into a tie with Kisya Killingsworth (2004-07) for eighth place on the school’s all-time career blocks list with 383 career rejections.


Freshman middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) tied her career high with five kills on a career-best .833 hitting with four blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) finished with six kills and 11 digs, while freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) dished out a squad-best 27 assists.


The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set until Jaeckel had two kills in a 3-0 run by the Gators to put them ahead 6-4. Georgia rallied with a 5-1 run of its own to take a 9-7 advantage. The Bulldogs kept rolling to an 11-8 lead before Florida ran off three consecutive points, capped off by a kill from Rivers, to knot the score at 11-11. After two more ties, an ace by Murphy allowed the Gators to reclaim the lead at 14-13. Following three more ties, a Georgia kill and an attack error by junior middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) put the Bulldogs ahead 18-16 and forced Wise to burn a timeout. Out of the break, a Jaeckel kill and an attack error by UGA’s Ann Dylla allowed Florida to tie the score at 18-18.


A Bulldog kill and a Gator attack error put Georgia back up by two, 20-18. Murphy charted a kill off the block to cut the UF deficit to one, 20-19, but a service error by the Gators gave UGA a two-point advantage. Back-to-back kills from Rivers and Murphy tied the score at 21-all and caused Bulldogs’ head coach Joel McCartney to use a timeout. From there, Murphy was called for a net violation and Georgia’s Maria Taylor registered a kill to give the Bulldogs a 23-21 lead heading into a Florida timeout. A put-down by Murphy brought the Gators to within one, but she was called for being in the net on the next play to put Georgia at set point, 24-22. An attack error by Bowers on the slide play allowed the Bulldogs to take a 25-22 first-set victory.


Florida and Georgia were tied at each of the first four points in the second set until the Bulldogs ran off two consecutive points to take a 6-4 advantage. A kill by Murphy on the right side sparked a 7-0 run for the Gators, that included a Bowers ace, to go up 11-6 heading into a Georgia timeout. Out of the break, Florida extended its scoring spree to 10-1, capped off by a block from Bledsoe and Bowers, to go up by seven, 14-7. With the Gators ahead 14-8, Bledsoe had two kills and Rivers served an ace to comprise a 3-0 Florida run that extended its advantage to nine, 17-8.


The Bulldogs scored three of the next four points to come within seven, 18-11, but Bledsoe ripped a kill to stop that scoring spree. Georgia then scored three in a row to whittle its deficit down to five, 19-14, forcing Wise to use a timeout. With Florida up 19-15, the Gators used a 4-0 run that was highlighted by an Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) ace, to go ahead 23-15. After Georgia scored three points in a row to come within 23-18, a service error by the Bulldogs brought UF to set point 24-18. An attack error by Georgia’s Erika Clarke gave the Gators a 25-18 second-set win.


Georgia opened to a 6-3 advantage in the third set before Florida, trailing 7-4, used a 3-0 run that included back-to-back kills by Murphy on the right side to knot the score at 7-all. Following eight more ties, the Bulldogs scored three consecutive points to go up 18-15 and force a Gator timeout. Out of the break, Florida ran off three points, capped off by two consecutive kills by Bledsoe to tie the score at 18-18 heading into a Georgia timeout.


With the Gators trailing by one, 19-18, Jaeckel and Bledsoe each registered kills to give Florida the advantage at 20-19. Following two more ties, Jaeckel drilled a kill down the line to put the Gators back up by one, 22-21. Georgia knotted the score at 22-22, but Taylor sailed an attack long to give Florida a 23-22 lead and force the Bulldogs to use a timeout. A put-down by Dylla again knotted the score, this time at 23-23, but Murphy drilled a kill down the middle and followed with a service ace on the next play to give Florida a 25-23 third-set win.


The Bulldogs used strong blocking to take a 5-2 advantage in the fourth set and Georgia kept rolling to a 7-3 advantage after a kill by Valentina Gonzalez and an attack error committed by Ward. Out of a Florida timeout, back-to-back kills by Bledsoe and Murphy sparked a 5-0 run by the Gators that was capped off by a Murphy kill that put Florida ahead 8-7. The Bulldogs responded with a 5-0 run of their own to reclaim the lead at 12-8. With the Gators trailing 13-9, freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) charted two kills and a block solo to cut UF’s deficit down to one, 13-12, heading into a Georgia timeout. The two teams then traded points until a service error by the Bulldogs and a rare Cusack kill knotted the score at 15-all.


Two consecutive UGA blocks put the Bulldogs ahead 17-15 and they kept rolling to a 19-16 advantage. Back-to-back kills by Clarke and a Florida attack error extended Georgia’s lead to five, 22-17, and caused Wise to use a timeout. With Florida trailing 23-17, the Gators scored two consecutive points to cut within five, 23-19, but Georgia reached set point at 24-19. Murphy and Ward then registered back-to-back kills and then Cusack found the floor on a service ace to help Florida stave off three attempts at set point heading into a UGA timeout down 24-22. Out of the break, Murphy registered a kill off the block on the right side, but Cusack committed a service error on the next play to give Georgia a 25-23 fourth-set victory. The Gators hit just .098 in the fourth set.  


Florida broke an early 3-3 tie in the fifth set with a kill by Bowers on the slide play that sparked a 3-0 run to put the Gators ahead 6-3 heading into a UGA timeout after a Murphy kill. Two UF errors out of the break brought the Bulldogs to within one, 6-5, but Taylor committed a foot fault on the next serve to widen the Gators’ margin back to two, 7-5. Georgia then ran off two points in a row to knot the score at 7-all and force Wise to burn a timeout. An attack error by Rivers and a UGA block gave the Bulldogs a 9-7 advantage. A Bowers kill brought UF to within one, 9-8, but Rivers and Bledsoe committed back-to-back attack errors to put the Bulldogs in front 11-8.


Out of a Florida timeout, Bledsoe posted a kill off the block on the right side before Johnson teamed with Murphy and Rivers, respectively, on back-to-back blocks to knot the score at 11-11. An attack error by Georgia’s Lindsay Gehan gave Florida the lead back at 12-11, before Gehan redeemed herself with a put-down on the next play to again knot the score, this time at 12-all. A Bulldog block on a Rivers attack put them ahead 13-12 and a Taylor kill put Georgia at match point ahead 14-12. A service ace gave the Bulldogs a 15-12 fifth-set victory.  


Georgia (14-9, 7-5 SEC) has now won six consecutive matches since dropping five of its first six SEC matches. The Bulldogs were led by Taylor’s 13 kills and seven blocks.


Florida returns to action on Friday when it plays host to Ole Miss. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is slated for 7 p.m. EDT and the match will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett.


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