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Friday October 31, 2008Milestones Fall As Volleyball Sweeps Ole Miss

Gainesville, FL

Junior Florida libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) became the school’s all-time career digs leader Friday and head coach Mary Wise notched her 650th career victory as the No. 11/9 Gators swept Ole Miss, 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-20) in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Cusack notched her seventh 20-plus dig performance of the season with 22 digs in the match to increase her career total to 1,461 and move her into sole possession of first place on the school’s all-time career digs. She surpassed Lyra Vance (1984-87), who accumulated 1,444 digs during her playing career, and Cusack did so just 81 matches into her collegiate career.

 

“It’s a great honor just to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the greatest players to ever play at Florida,” Cusack said.

 

Five Gators tallied seven or more kills in the match, led by freshman right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), who charted her 12th consecutive double-double with a match-high 12 kills on .320 hitting with 17 assists for 13.0 points. As a team, Florida (18-2, 12-1 Southeastern Conference) hit .362 and out-blocked the Rebels (10-11, 6-6 SEC) 8.0-0.0.

 

“What Florida volleyball has to do in order to be successful is to have solid performances from each of our players, not just one or two,” Wise said. “The eight blocks we had tonight are a result of the hard work our players put into practice this week, but the zero blocks by Ole Miss had to do with our setters making great setting choices.”

 

Senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) turned in a stellar performance with eight kills and no errors on 11 swings for a season-best .727 hitting percentage and three blocks, while freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) finished with eight kills and no errors on 15 swings for a .533 hitting percentage with four digs.

 

Bowers moved into sole possession of eighth place on Florida’s all-time career blocks list and now has 386 career rejections. She surpassed Kisya Killingsworth (2004-07), who recorded 383 blocks during her playing career, and Bowers needs just two more to tie Angie McGinnis (2004-07) for seventh place all-time with 388 career rejections.

 

Freshman middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) continued her strong play at the net, posting a match-high five blocks, which tied her career high of five blocks recorded on Oct. 15 vs. South Carolina. Anderson has charted four or more blocks in five of her last six matches, including three consecutive. Anderson also tied her career high with five kills in Friday’s match.

 

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) registered nine kills on .250 hitting, while sophomore middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) recorded seven kills on .500 hitting.

 

Freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) dished out a match-high 26 assists to complement eight digs in helping to direct a Gator offense that out-hit Ole Miss .362-.168. Florida hit an outstanding .406 in the final set of the match. Bathelt tied her career high with two service aces on Friday.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set until back-to-back attack errors by Jaeckel and sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) gave Ole Miss an early 8-6 advantage. With the Gators trailing 10-7, the Rebels committed an attack error, and Murphy and Ward followed with consecutive kills to knot the score at 10-all. Following three more ties, a Bledsoe kill sparked a 3-0 run for Florida that put it ahead 16-13. Ole Miss answered with a 2-0 run of its own to come within one, 16-15, before a Bowers kill on the slide stopped the Rebels’ scoring streak.

 

The two teams traded points before Ole Miss committed back-to-back errors to extend Florida’s advantage to 20-16 and force the Rebels to burn a timeout. Out of the break, a Bathelt ace and an Ole Miss attack error gave the Gators a six-point, 22-16, lead. The Rebels scored three of the next four points to cut within four, 23-19. Anderson then registered a kill before an attack error by the Rebels’ Emily Jones gave Florida a 25-19 first-set victory.

 

Florida raced out to a 5-1 advantage to begin the second set, and Murphy had three kills during that stretch. The two teams then traded points until a Bledsoe kill off the block on the right side sparked a 3-0 Florida run that was capped off by a Bathelt ace. That scoring spree gave the Gators an 11-6 lead and forced Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin to burn a timeout. The two teams then traded points until back-to-back put-downs by the Rebels’ Jones brought her team to within two, 18-16, heading into a Florida timeout.

 

Murphy and Anderson charted back-to-back kills out of the break and Ole Miss’ Caitlin Keefe committed an attack error to extend the Gators’ advantage to 21-16 heading into a timeout called by the Rebels. With Florida in front 21-17, Ward registered a kill and Cusack served an ace to put the Gators up 23-17. The teams traded the final four points before a put-down by Bowers closed out the 25-19 second-set win.

 

Florida and Ole Miss fought closely to begin the third set before Ward and Jaeckel tallied back-to-back kills to put the Gators ahead 8-6. Two consecutive errors by the Rebels gave Florida a 10-7 lead and the Gators kept rolling to a 14-9 advantage heading into an Ole Miss timeout. Out of the break, a service ace by senior defensive specialist Christina Diaz (Hollywood, Fla.) and a kill by Jaeckel on the next play put the Gators ahead by seven, 16-9.

 

Ole Miss began slowly whittling its deficit down to four, 21-17, heading into a timeout by the Rebels. After an Ole Miss kill out of the break, Ward notched a kill and Jaeckel followed with back-to-back put-downs to bring Florida to match point at 24-18. The Rebels staved off two Gator attempts at the match before Bledsoe delivered the match-clinching kill, giving Florida a 25-20 third-set victory.

 

Florida returns to action on Sunday when it plays host to Arkansas. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is slated for 1:30 p.m. EST and the match will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore.

 

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

 

QUOTES ABOUT ELYSE CUSACK BREAKING THE FLORIDA ALL-TIME CAREER DIGS RECORD

 

Elyse Cusack – Junior Libero

“It’s a great honor just to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the greatest players to ever play at Florida.”

 

Kelsey Bowers – Senior Middle Blocker

“Elyse is a great competitor. She earned this record and really deserves it. As a blocker, it’s great to know that if I miss a block, I have Elyse behind me. I know that I just have to adjust and that she is going to make the dig.”

 

Mary Wise – Florida Head Coach

“Elyse emerged early in her career showing signs that she was going to become one of the best liberos in the country. Having 22 digs in three sets tonight is just typical of her playing career.”

 

END OF REPORT

 

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