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Sunday November 9, 2008Strong Serving Helps Volleyball Defeat Auburn, 3-1

Gainesville, FL

Florida freshmen Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) combined for 26 kills, 13 digs and 31.0 points Sunday, and the No. 12/9 Gators tied their season high with 12 service aces to shake off a slow start and defeat Auburn, 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-21) in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


The Gators (20-2, 14-1 Southeastern Conference) have reached the 20-win plateau for the 18th consecutive year and currently are in sole possession of first place in the SEC after Kentucky lost a five-set match at Ole Miss on Friday night. Florida’s 12 service aces in the match tied its season high of 12 set in its season opener vs. UAB on Aug. 29. It marked the Gators’ most aces in a conference match since recording 12 at Auburn on Oct. 19, 2007.


“I thought serving won the match for us today,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We served very aggressively and had 12 aces – I thought that was really the highlight of today.”


Auburn (6-21, 1-15 SEC) broke out to an early 14-9 lead in the first set and cruised to a 25-18 victory after hitting .400 in the frame. Florida rebounded by winning a back-and-fourth second set and took the match 3-1.


“Auburn played as well as they could in the first set and they hit .400,” Wise said. “We were way out of sync and when you’re out of sync, it starts to snowball. The key for us was winning the second set. If we go down 0-2, then we’re out there hoping for it to go to five.”


Murphy notched her 16th double-double of the season with a team-high-tying 13 kills on .320 hitting with a squad-best 22 assists to complement nine digs, as she just narrowly missed charting her fourth career triple-double. She also tied her career high with three service aces in the match.


Jaeckel, who returned to the court after sitting out the team’s Nov. 2 match vs. Arkansas due to illness, tallied 13 kills on a match-high .440 hitting percentage with four digs.


“It was a hard weekend last weekend not being able to be out there on Sunday,” Jaeckel said. “Just being able to come back after sitting out really makes you appreciate being out there with your teammates and being able to be successful.”


Freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.), the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, finished with nine kills and three blocks for 10.5 points, while sophomore middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) recorded six kills and registered three blocks.


Senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) posted a match-high six blocks, and she has led the Gators in blocking in seven of the last eight matches that she has played. Bowers increased her career blocking total to 397 rejections and she needs 27 more to tie Heather Wright (1997-00) for sixth place on the school’s all-time blocks list.


Sophomore defensive specialist Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) had one of her best serving matches of the season, after playing a huge role in Florida’s 3-0 win at Auburn on Oct. 17. Fleming served a season-high two aces and had a 1.000 serving percentage on nine service attempts off the bench.


Junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) and freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) each also had strong serving matches. Cusack had a 1.000 serve percentage on 17 attempts with three aces, while Bathelt got 1.000 percent of her serves in with one ace. Bathelt also added 16 assists and six digs.


Cusack, who ranks ninth in SEC history in career digs, tied Murphy for the team lead in digs with nine to increase her career total to 1,487 scoops. She needs eight more digs to tie Auburn’s Gretchen Thompson (1986-89) for eighth place all-time in SEC history. Cusack also had a perfect reception percentage on 24 attempts in the match.


The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set before Auburn broke an 8-all tie with back-to-back kills by Alyssa Davis, its 6-foot-5 middle blocker, and a service ace by Milena Bukinac to take an 11-8 advantage into a Florida timeout. Out of the break, the Tigers scored five of the next six points to push their lead out to seven, 16-9. A kill by Jaeckel ended the AU scoring streak and she followed with a service ace to cut the Gators’ deficit down to five, 16-11.


Following a kill by the Tigers’ Jessica Glover, Murphy and sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) followed with kills of their own and an Auburn attack error brought Florida to within three, 17-14. Out of an AU timeout, the Tigers ran off three of the next four points to take a 20-15 advantage. Auburn kept rolling to a 22-17 lead before a Jaeckel kill stopped the scoring spree. The Tigers then closed out the game on a 3-0 run to take a 25-18 win.


Auburn quickly took an 11-8 advantage in the second set before a Murphy kill and a Cusack ace brought the Gators to within one, 11-10. The two teams then traded points until a kill by Bledsoe sparked a 3-0 run that was aided by the strong serving of Fleming to go ahead 14-13. After another tie at 14-14, Jaeckel had a kill, and an attack error by the Tigers put Florida ahead 16-14 heading into an Auburn timeout. The two teams then traded points before the Tigers were able to knot the score at 18-all after back-to-back errors by the Gators.


After one more tie, Auburn used consecutive kills to reclaim the lead at 21-19. Two consecutive attack errors by the Tigers tied the score at 21-21, forcing AU head coach Wade Benson to burn a timeout. Murphy served an ace out of the break to give Florida a one-point, 22-21, advantage. After two more ties, Auburn’s Jessica Glover committed a service error and Murphy capped off the 25-23 second-set victory with a kill.


Florida broke out to an early 10-5 lead in the third set behind a strong service run by Bathelt. After an Auburn kill, the Gators scored three consecutive points to extend its advantage to 13-6. With Florida ahead 13-8, Ward registered a kill and Cusack served an ace to put the Gators ahead by seven, 15-8. Glover recorded a kill for the Tigers to spark a 3-0 run that whittled their deficit down to four, 15-11.


An Auburn service error and a Murphy ace gave the Gators a 17-11 lead heading into a timeout. Out of the break, Florida extended its run to 3-0, including another Murphy ace, to widen its advantage to eight, 19-11. A kill by Bledsoe with the Gators ahead 20-12 sparked a 3-0 run that gave the Gators a 22-12 lead. The two teams traded points before a Rivers put-down and a Bathelt ace allowed Florida to take a 25-14 third-set victory. The Gators hit a match-high .455 in the third set.


Auburn broke out to a 6-4 lead to begin the fourth set before a Jaeckel kill began a 4-0 Florida run, behind the serving of Bowers, that put it ahead 8-6. After two more ties, Murphy had two kills sandwiched in between a Ward kill to break an 11-all tie and give the Gators a 14-11 advantage. With Florida ahead 14-12, an attack error by the Tigers and a kill by Ward forced an Auburn timeout with the Gators in front 16-12.


Florida kept rolling to a 21-16 lead following a kill by Murphy before two consecutive put-downs by the Tigers brought them within three, 21-18, and forced Wise to use a timeout. Auburn then scored three of the next four points to cut within one, 22-21, and force another Florida timeout. Three consecutive attack errors by the Tigers out of the break gave UF a 25-21 match-clinching victory.


“I felt good about the adjustments we made at the end of set two,” Wise said. “With some of those changes in set three, we passed lights out. I think Auburn was as good as a team as we have had serve here. They served lights out in sets one, two and four and for them to have only had four aces, we were doing something right.”


Auburn was led by Glover’s match-high 18 kills on .351 hitting with four digs and two blocks for a match-high 19.0 points.


“I think the story of the match from Auburn’s standpoint is how well Jessica Glover played,” Wise said. “She’s a senior with a ton of experience who played really well.”


Florida returns to action on Friday when it travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee. Opening serve in Thompson-Boling Arena between the Gators and Lady Vols is slated for 7 p.m. EST and the match will be carried live on ROCK 104 (103.7 FM in Gainesville) with Tom Collett.


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Updated SEC Standings (Includes All Matches from 11/9/08)


Florida – 20-2, 14-1 SEC

Kentucky – 23-4, 14-2 SEC

Tennessee – 19-8, 12-4 SEC

South Carolina 19-6, 10-5 SEC

Georgia – 15-12, 8-8 SEC



LSU – 14-9, 9-7 SEC

Ole Miss – 11-13, 7-8 SEC

Alabama – 13-11, 6-9 SEC

Arkansas – 6-19, 3-12 SEC

Mississippi State 6-20, 1-14 SEC

Auburn – 6-21, 1-15 SEC


Sunday’s SEC Results

No. 12 Florida 3, Auburn 1

No. 19 Kentucky 3, Arkansas 0

Alabama 3, Georgia 2

Tennessee 3, Ole Miss 1

LSU 3, Mississippi State 0




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