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Friday November 14, 2008Murphy Triple-Double, Late-Match Blocking Lead to Sweep of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN

Freshman Florida right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) tied the school record for career triple-doubles just 23 matches into her collegiate career, finishing with a team-high 15 kills, 16 assists and 14 digs Friday for her fourth career triple-double in a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-23) win against Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena.  


Murphy’s four career triple-double ties her with former Gator All-America setter Angie McGinnis (2004-07), as they are the only two players in school history to have charted a triple-double. Murphy, who also had three blocks and a team-leading 16.5 points in the match, has tallied a team-leading 17 double-doubles in 23 matches this season.


Three Florida (21-2, 15-1 Southeastern Conference) players recorded double-digit kills for the seventh time this season and the first time since facing Georgia on Oct. 26, 2008. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) tallied 14 kills and posted four digs, while freshman outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) added 11 kills and 12.5 points.


“This was a great match tonight,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “I thought we played very well, but we were fortunate to win this match. I thought it easily could have gone the other way. Tennessee was on a nine-match winning streak, has some of the best talent in the league and they are so well coached.”


Florida out-blocked Tennessee, 13.0-9.0, to improve to 7-0 this season when charting double-digit team blocks. Freshman middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) led the blocking effort with a team-high six rejections. The Gators had an impressive nine blocks in the third set alone and sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) served an stellar five-point run for Florida late in that frame to allow them to come back from a 21-16 deficit to clinch the sweep.


“Callie Rivers was the difference maker for us in set three,” Wise said. “Callie came in off the bench and really served well for us and that’s just an example of her competitiveness. I can’t say enough about her tonight.”


Junior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) had a match-high 22 digs as one of three players in double-figure dig totals, and she also dished out a season-high eight assists. It marked the eighth time this season that Cusack has eclipsed the 20-dig plateau.


“Hats off to Elyse Cusack,” Wise said. “She was everywhere tonight and I thought her performance was All-America worthy.”


Senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.), who ranks seventh on UF’s all-time career blocks list, had five blocks in the match, including a season-high two block solos, while freshman setter Cindy Bathelt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) charted her second career double-double with 16 assists and a career-high 11 digs.


Florida raced out to a 5-1 advantage to begin the first set before back-to-back kills by Tennessee’s Alyssa Hilby and Mindy Flynn cut the Gator lead to two, 5-3. Jaeckel had put-downs on two of the next three plays to push Florida’s lead out to three, 7-4. The Lady Vols scored the next two consecutive points to cut their deficit to one, 7-6 before the two teams began trading points. With the Gators ahead 9-8, Tennessee committed back-to-back errors to extend the Florida edge back to three, 11-8. The Lady Vols again whittled their deficit down to one, 13-12 before Ward responded with two consecutive kills to allow the Gators to go up 15-12 and force UT head coach Rob Patrick to burn a timeout.


Out of the break, Murphy registered a kill but Ward and Anderson committed consecutive attack errors to bring Tennessee within one, 16-15. The Lady Vols knotted the score at 17-all and took a 19-18 advantage after back-to-back attack errors by Murphy and Ward. Following two more ties, Tennessee went ahead 22-20 after a block by Nikki Fowler and Farren Powe on the right side. Out of a Florida timeout, a kill by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) on the slide and an attack error by UT’s Kylie Marshall knotted the score at 22-all. An attack error by Fowler on the next play allowed the Gators to re-gain the advantage at 23-22. The two squads traded attack errors before a Murphy kill on the right side gave Florida a 25-23 first-set victory. Both teams hit less than .140 in the opening frame.


The Gators stormed to a 6-1 lead to begin the second set and Florida kept rolling to a 9-4 advantage after consecutive kills by Anderson and Murphy. The Lady Vols responded with a 3-0 run of their own to cut within two, 9-7, before back-to-back kills by Murphy and Ward sparked a 3-1 Florida scoring spree that put the Gators ahead by four, 12-8. With UF in front 14-10, Jaeckel registered consecutive kills on the outside and Murphy followed with a put-down on the angle to extend the Gators’ lead to seven, 17-10, and force Patrick to use another timeout.


Tennessee then scored five of the next six points to cut within three, 18-15. The two teams continued to battle evenly until back-to-back put-downs by Murphy and Ward gave the Gators a three-point, 21-18, lead. Bowers and Bledsoe posted a powerful block on the right side and Ward followed with a kill to put Florida up five, 23-18. A Tennessee error brought UF to set point at 24-18 before a Bowers and Bledsoe block gave the Gators a 25-18 second-set win.


The two teams battled evenly to begin the third set with five early ties before Tennessee was able to take a 9-7 advantage after back-to-back attack errors by the Gators. That was a beginning of a 5-0 run by the Lady Vols that put them in front 12-7. A kill by Jaeckel stopped the Tennessee scoring streak, but the Lady Vols responded with a put-down of their own to go up by five, 13-8. Two consecutive kills by Ward brought Florida within three, 13-10, but Tennessee followed with two points to push the advantage back out to five, 15-10. With the Gators trailing 17-13, Murphy recorded a crafty kill on second contact, and Anderson and Bledsoe followed with a block on the next play to come within two, 17-15.


With Florida trailing 18-16, The Lady Vols went on a 3-0 run to extend their advantage to five, 21-16. Murphy then recorded a kill on the right side and teamed with Anderson for a block in the middle on the next play to cut UF’s deficit to three, 21-18. That sparked a 5-0 run that knotted the score at 21-all and caused Patrick to use his final timeout. Out of the break, a Murphy kill gave the Gators the lead back at 22-21 before the Lady Vols again tied the score, this time at 22-22.


A block by Murphy and Anderson on the right side put Florida ahead 23-22 and Cusack served an ace on the next play to bring the Gators to match point at 24-22. A Cusack service error allowed UT to stave off one attempt at match point before a Murphy kill on the angle gave Florida a 25-23 victory.


Tennessee (19-9, 12-5 SEC) was led by Flynn’s 10 kills, seven digs and two blocks for a team-leading 11.0 points.


Florida returns to action on Sunday when it travels to Lexington, Ky., to face Kentucky. Opening serve in Memorial Coliseum is slated for 1:30 p.m. EST and the match will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett.



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