Saturday September 5, 2009No. 5/5 Gators Post Dramatic Five-Set Win vs. Stanford
Trailing 24-21 in the fourth set and down 2-1 in the match, the No. 5/5 Florida volleyball team rallied to post a dramatic five-set (25-20, 15-25, 16-25, 27-25, 15-9) victory against No. 11/12 Stanford on Friday in the Alex G. Spanos Center on the opening night of the 31st Annual Community Bankers Classic.
Florida (4-0) charted its second consecutive five-set win and it was its second consecutive match where it had to stave off an attempt at match point in order to post the victory. For the first time in school history the Gators have won back-to-back matches after being down at match point.
“Not only was it our second match in a row to win in five, but it was our second to come back from being down at match point,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “To do that twice in two matches is amazing. I can’t say enough about our team’s resiliency. It was match point for Stanford with Kristy Jaeckel serving and she just went back there and ripped the jump serve. We just got great play out of so many players tonight. That’s why you win big matches.”
Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) recorded a team-high 16 kills for a squad-best 18.5 points. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) accumulated her seventh career triple-double with 14 kills, a match-high 28 assists and 10 digs. Murphy also had three blocks in the match.
The Gators have placed at least three players in double-figure kills in each of their four matches this season and had four players in double-figures on Friday night. Junior right-side/middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) tallied 13 kills on .500 hitting, while sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) had 11 kills and two service aces.
Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) led the defensive effort with 22 digs and also added nine assists. Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) posted six kills and a season-high six blocks in the match.
Florida trailed 24-21 in the fourth set before Stanford’s Janet Okogbaa committed an attack error. Murphy then recorded a kill and Okogbaa committed another error to tie the score at 24-all. After another tie at 25, the Cardinal’s Cassidy Lichtman had a service error and Ward ripped a kill to give Florida the 27-25 fourth-set victory.
The two teams were even for much of the fifth set before Anderson and Murphy posted a powerful block to give Florida a 7-5 advantage. The Gators led 8-6 when the two squads switched sides of the court and a Murphy kill put Florida up 9-6 heading into a Stanford timeout.
The Cardinal cut to within one, 9-8, before the Gators posted three kills in a row, the last by Bledsoe, to go up 13-8 in the set. After a Murphy service error, Ward and Jaeckel tallied back-to-back kills to clinch the 15-9 set-five win.
Stanford raced out to an early 7-2 advantage to open the first set before Bledsoe and Johnson registered back-to-back kills to bring the Gators within three, 7-4. The Cardinal extended their lead back out to five at 9-4, before Florida used a 7-1 run to pull ahead 11-10 heading into a Stanford timeout. Anderson, Jaeckel and Murphy each had two kills during that run.
The Cardinal ran off four points in a row out of the timeout, to reclaim the lead at 13-11 following a Jaeckel attack error. Anderson then registered a kill off the block to spark a 4-1 run that included back-to-back kills from Ward and put Florida ahead 15-14 on an Anderson service ace. After four more ties, a kill by Jaeckel gave the Gators a 19-18 lead. Ahead 20-19, Florida closed out the match on a 5-1 run to take a 25-20 victory. Ward and Anderson teamed up for a pair of blocks during that final first-set run.
The two teams battled evenly to begin the second set before Stanford took a 6-4 advantage after back-to-back attack errors by Jaeckel. After two more ties, kills by the Cardinal’s Alix Klineman and Jessica Walker put it in front 10-8. With Stanford ahead 15-13 following a Jaeckel kill, the Cardinal ran off four consecutive points to stretch the lead to 19-13. Stanford closed out the set on a 6-2 scoring spree to take a 25-15 second-set victory.
Stanford used two early blocks to take a 5-2 advantage in the third set before a Ward kill on the angle stopped the scoring streak. With Florida trailing 6-3, Murphy registered a kill and followed with an ace before Bledsoe charted a soft-touch kill to tie the score at 6-6. After another tie at 7-all, Stanford used a pair of blocks to build a 10-7 advantage heading into a Florida timeout. Out of the break, the Cardinal ran off three consecutive points to take a 13-7 advantage leading into another UF break. Bledsoe ripped a kill out of the timeout and Anderson followed with a sharp attack on an overpass to cut the Gators’ deficit to four, 13-9. Stanford kept rolling to a 17-13 lead and cruised to the 25-16 win.
The two teams fought evenly to begin the fourth set before Stanford, leading 4-3, scored four consecutive points to take an 8-4 advantage. A Murphy kill on the angle stopped that scoring streak. That 4-0 Cardinal run was the start of a 6-2 run that gave Stanford a 10-5 lead after a Ward attack error. With Florida down 11-6, the Gators and Cardinal began trading points before a Stanford service error and consecutive kills by Ward and Murphy brought Florida to within two, 14-12. Out of the break, the Cardinal scored two in a row to move their lead back out to four, 16-12. Stanford kept rolling to an 18-12 advantage before a Murphy kill off hands stopped the streak. The Cardinal reached match point at 24-21 to set up Florida’s late-match heroics.
Stanford (2-2) was led by Lichtman’s 16 kills.
The all-time series between the two schools is now tied at 3-3 and Florida snapped a two-match winning streak by the Cardinal in the all-time series.
Florida returns to action on Saturday when it plays the winner of the Pacific-San Jose State match at 10 p.m. ET. Friday’s second match was still going on at press time. Live audio from that match will be aired on www.GatorZone.com courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.
For all of the latest information on Florida Volleyball, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/volleyball. Follow the Gators on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneVB and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GatorMary.
The University of Florida is home to the 2009 NCAA Volleyball Regional. For ticket information, log on to www.GatorZone.com/tickets.
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