Friday September 25, 2009No. 5/5 Volleyball Opens Four-Match Homestand with Sweep of Mississippi State
Playing at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for the first time since Aug. 31, the No. 5/5 Florida volleyball team was impressive in recording its 35th consecutive win in the series against Mississippi State with a 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-18) sweep on Friday night.
Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) led the way for the Gators (9-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) with a match-high 12 kills on .476 hitting with a match-high 28 assists and seven digs for 14.0 total points, while sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) added 11 kills, a match-high three service aces and seven digs. Ward led the team with 15.0 points.
Florida hit .390 as a team on Friday night, marking the squad’s highest team hitting efficiency in a SEC match so far this season and its second-highest efficiency of the year overall. The Gators out-dug the Bulldogs 46-27 and led in kills 52-25.
“The numbers looked good in terms of consistency,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We were relatively low-error hitting. I thought we did a great job working to hit around the blocking. Tonight, we got kills in a number of different places with a lot of different lineups, and that’s something we can build on.”
Three Florida players hit better than .500 in the match for the first time since accomplishing that feat in the NCAA First Round on Dec. 5, 2008. Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) registered eight kills on 10 swings with no errors for a .800 hitting efficiency to complement three blocks, junior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) turned in nine kills on .500 hitting, while senior middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) added four kills on a .571 hitting efficiency.
Rivers, an outside hitter by design, made her first start of the 2009 season, doing so on the right side and excelling with a season-high nine put-downs.
“For Callie to have nine kills on 16 swings with .500 hitting on the right side, having only played this position for a month, is very impressive,” Wise said. “We’re trying to get as many balls to as many playmakers as we can. Today, we played with a line-up with Callie, Lauren [Bledsoe], Kristy [Jaeckel] and Colleen on the court at the same time. We like what those options give us.”
Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.), who has recorded double-figure digs in each of the team’s 10 matches this season, had a match-high 16 digs to complement six digs and a service ace.
Junior setter Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa) dished out 11 assists, while sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel recorded eight digs and tied a season-high with two service aces.
A service ace by Murphy started the first set before the Gators, leading 6-5 after an attack error by Jaeckel, ran off six consecutive points to extend their advantage to 12-5. A put-down by Anderson gave Florida a 14-6 advantage and then, following a kill by MSU’s Ashley Newsome, the Gators used a 3-0 run that included a kill and two service aces by Ward to take an 18-8 lead. UF cruised to a 25-12 opening-set win that was capped off by a Murphy kill. Impressively, Ward had each of her three service aces in the first set.
Mississippi State started the second set with a 2-0 lead, but after a Murphy kill allowed the Gators to side-out, Jaeckel served five consecutive points, including an ace, to put her team ahead 6-2. The Bulldogs hung tough, but Florida broke away after a second-contact kill by Murphy gave the squad a 16-12 advantage. The Gators closed the set on a 9-2 run for a 25-14 win.
Rodgers opened the third set as the team’s primary setter, finding Murphy for a pair of kills to start the set. With Florida ahead 3-2 after a Murphy kill, the Gators used a four-point service run by Jaeckel to go ahead 7-2. Mississippi State benefitted from a pair of blocks to cut within two at 7-5. The third set stayed close, keeping entertained a crowd of 2,725 fans.
With the Gators ahead by three, 13-10, Florida used a 5-2 run that was capped off by a Ward kill to put the Gators in front 18-12. The two teams traded runs and a 3-0 spree by Florida forced a Mississippi State timeout with the Bulldogs down 21-16. Junior right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) finished with a solid kill to clinch the set and the match at 25-18.
Mississippi State’s (4-10) Newsome and Caitlin Rance each recorded a team-high seven kills, while Kayla Woodard had a squad-best nine digs in the match.
The Gators improve to 35-0 all-time vs. Mississippi State, including a 26-0 mark under Wise’s direction. The Bulldogs are one of four SEC teams Wise has never lost to during her Florida head coaching career. Florida holds a 105-3 set advantage in the all-time series following Friday’s match.
Florida returns to action on Sunday when it plays host to Alabama. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on GatorVision Online and ROCK 104 with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore.
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.
Florida Head Coach Mary Wise
“The numbers looked good in terms of consistency. We were relatively low-error hitting. I thought we did a great job working to hit around the blocking. Tonight, we got kills in a number of different places with a lot of different lineups, and that’s something we can build on.”
On Florida’s lineups …
“We are able to be more versatile based on our lineups, their strength and how we plug in players. It’s a great opportunity for our players to use their talents and gives us some versatility that teams in the past have not had.”
On the performance of junior outside hitter Callie Rivers …
““For Callie to have nine kills on 16 swings with .500 hitting on the right side, having only played this position for a month, is very impressive. We’re trying to get as many balls to as many playmakers as we can. Today, we played with a line-up with Callie, Lauren [Bledsoe], Kristy [Jaeckel] and Colleen on the court at the same time. We like what those options give us.”
#5 Callie Rivers, Jr., OH
On Friday’s win against Mississippi State …
“It was fun for everyone on our team to be able to play back at home. The coaches switched it up a little and gave Mississippi State some different looks tonight. It was good to be able to come out as a team and be successful.”
On Florida having 12 players see action in the match …
“It’s good because everyone gets the opportunity to play. It also gives the opposition a lot of different looks to defend against.”
#21 Cassandra Anderson, So., MB
On Florida playing its first home match since Aug. 31 …
“It felt good to be back at home after being on the road for the last three weeks. Being back in front of this crowd really felt good.”
On the crowd of 2,725 fans in the O’Connell Center on Friday night …
“We came out and had a lot of energy tonight. It’s great to see the fans come out and give us some extra energy from the stands.”
END OF REPORT