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Sunday September 6, 2009No. 5/5 Gators Claim Community Bankers Classic Championship

Stockton, CA

Sophomore Florida outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) on Saturday recorded a team-high 15 kills on .355 hitting to help the No. 5/5 Gators to a 3-1 (25-14, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21) win against host Pacific. The victory in the Alex G. Spanos Center clinched the 31st Annual Community Bankers Classic Championship for UF.


The Gators (5-0) placed four players in double-figure kills for the second consecutive match and defeated Pacific (4-1) for the second consecutive season.


Florida head coach Mary Wise was pleased with the victory, but said the two matches in the Community Bankers Classic help Florida learn of the areas in which it needs to improve.


“These were two back-to-back grind-it-out matches in this tournament that exposed weaknesses in areas where we can get better,” Wise said.


Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) was named the Most Valuable Player of the Community Bankers Classic. She finished Saturday’s match with a match-high 16 digs and moved into the Southeastern Conference’s all-time top-five for career digs now with 1,713 career scoops.


Ward finished with a team-high 15 kills to go along with seven digs and a team-high 16.0 points. Junior middle blocker/right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) had 12 kills on .455 hitting.


Sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) notched her fourth career double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs to complement two block solos. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) added 10 kills with a career-high six blocks and 24 assists.


Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) posted a team-high seven blocks.


Florida raced to a 4-1 advantage to begin the first set after a pair of blocks by Anderson and Murphy and back-to-back kills by Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Ward. The two teams then began trading points until the Gators, leading 5-3, got a sharp kill by Bledsoe on the right side and Pacific committed an attack error to give UF a 7-3 lead. The Gators kept rolling to an 11-5 advantage that was capped off by a block from Anderson and Murphy on the right side. That forced Pacific to burn a timeout.


Florida scored two in a row out of the break thanks to a kill and a resounding block solo by Jaeckel to extend its advantage to 13-5. The Tigers responded with a 3-0 run of their own before a Murphy kill on the right side stopped the scoring streak with Florida ahead 14-8. The Gators continued on to a 19-11 advantage after a powerful kill by Bledsoe on the angle. After checking into the lineup, back-to-back kills by Florida’s Rivers put the Gators in front 22-11. After the two teams traded points, a Rivers kill gave Florida the 25-14 first-set win.


Pacific broke to a 3-0 lead to start the second set before back-to-back kills by Jaeckel and Anderson put the Gators on the scoreboard down 3-2. The Tigers then scored three in a row to go up 5-2 and rolled to an 8-5 advantage. With Florida trailing by two, 8-6, the Gators committed consecutive errors to make it 10-6 Pacific and force Wise to burn a timeout.


After the two teams traded points, a service error and a net violation by the Tigers brought Florida to within two, 12-10. Pacific built its lead back out to five, 18-13, forcing the Gators to use another timeout. With the Tigers ahead 20-16, Pacific ran off three points in a row to go up 23-16. Florida answered with three consecutive points of its own, the last coming on a Ward kill off an overpass to cut its deficit to four, 23-19. Pacific scored two of the next three points to take a 25-20 second-set victory.


The two teams battled evenly to begin the third set until two Pacific attack errors broke a 4-4 tie and put the Gators ahead 6-4. A pair of errors by Florida re-tied the score at 6-all. Following three more ties, back-to-back kills by Bledsoe and Ward put the Gators in front 11-9. Two Florida errors tied the score at 11-11, but Bledsoe, Murphy and Anderson charted consecutive kills to put the Gators up 14-11.


The Gators extended their lead out to 18-13 after Ward registered a kill and Johnson slammed a kill down the middle on the ensuing play, which forced Pacific to burn a timeout. Down 19-13, the Tigers ran off three points in a row to cut within three, 19-16, leading into a Florida timeout. Out of the break, Ward and Bledsoe each had kills to widen the Gators’ lead to 21-16. After Pacific cut within four, 22-18, Florida closed out the set on a 3-1 run to capture the 25-19 win.


Pacific jumped out to a 4-1 advantage in the fourth set, thanks to two aces during that span. The Tigers stretched their lead out to 8-3 before a soft-touch kill by Murphy stopped the scoring streak. With Florida trailing 12-6, the Gators used a 4-0 run, capped off by a Ward ace to cut within two, 12-10, and force Pacific to burn a timeout. Out of the break, the Gators tied the score at 12-12 thanks to a Jaeckel kill off the block. The Tigers pulled ahead 14-12 before the two teams began trading points. Trailing 16-14, the Gators ran off three consecutive points, the last a resounding kill by Ward off an overpass to put Florida ahead for the first time in the set at 17-16.


The Gators extended their lead to 20-17 after back-to-back attack errors by the Tigers. Pacific responded with three consecutive points to knot the score at 20-all. Florida then used a 3-0 run, capped off by a kill from Johnson, to go up 23-20 and force Tigers coach Dave Johnson to use his last timeout of the period. Florida closed out the set with a 25-21 win in the fourth set on a Ward kill.


Pacific was led by Mallori Gibson’s match-high 16 kills, while Svenja Engelhardt added 15 kills.


Florida returns to action on Friday, Sept. 11, when it travels to Tampa, Fla., to play the University of South Florida as part of the Tampa Twice Tournament. Opening serve from the Sun Dome is set for 8 p.m. ET.


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 courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.


For all of the latest information on Florida Volleyball, please log on to Follow the Gators on Twitter at and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at


The University of Florida is home to the 2009 NCAA Volleyball Regional. For ticket information, log on to


Elyse Cusack, FLA (MVP)
Kristy Jaeckel, FLA
Colleen Ward, FLA
Lauren Bledsoe, FLA
Dancyne Kama, PAC
Svenja Engelhardt, PAC
Cassidy Lichtman, STAN



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