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Wednesday October 7, 2009No. 6 Volleyball Gets Past South Carolina in Four

Columbia, SC

Sophomore Florida right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) turned in her nation-leading fourth triple-double of the season and outside hitters Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) and Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) combined for 36 kills to lead the No. 6/6 Gators to a 3-1 (24-26, 25-19, 25-23, 25-15) victory against Southeastern Conference Eastern Division rival South Carolina on Wednesday in the Volleyball Competition Facility.

 

The Gators (12-2, 6-1 SEC) won the blocking battle by their largest margin of the season, 12-5, and have now out-blocked their opponents in three of the last four matches.

 

“I think the difference in this match tonight was our blocking,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Tonight we blocked 12 balls and, to come in here, any win with a healthy Ivana [Kujundzic] is going to be hard to come by. I thought both setters did a really good job of distributing the ball tonight to have three outside hitters with double-figure kills.”

 

Murphy’s fourth triple-double of the season marked the 10th triple-dip of her career and was comprised of 12 kills, 25 assists and 17 digs to complement five blocks. The sophomore is the school’s all-time career triple-doubles leader and the only player in the SEC so far this season to have charted even one triple-double on the 2009 campaign.

 

Ward, who has tallied double-figure kills in 12 of 14 matches this season, tallied a career-high 18 kills and seven digs in the match. Jaeckel also added 18 kills. Junior setter Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa) dished out a team-high 28 assists.

 

Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) turned in a team-high 18 digs to mark the 99th double-figure dig match of her career. She now has 1,848 career scoops and ranks third all-time in SEC history.

 

Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) tied her career high with 10 blocks, matching her personal best recorded in Columbia last season.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set before the Gamecocks benefitted from back-to-back kills by Hannah Lawing and Megan Laughlin to take a 7-5 advantage. The Gators responded with a 4-0 run that was capped off by an ace from Jaeckel to take a 9-7 lead. Florida widened its margin to three, 14-11, following an illegal rotation call against South Carolina. A Jaeckel kill put the Gators in front 15-12 heading into a media timeout. Florida continued to hold a narrow advantage, going up 18-15 on a kill by Ward on the outside. Carolina then put together a 3-0 run thanks to a ball-handling error by Rodgers and an attack error by Murphy to knot the score at 18-18 heading into a UF timeout.

 

After another tie, Florida ran off two consecutive points, the last a Ward kill to stake to a 21-19 advantage. The Gamecocks rallied to again tie the score, this time at 22-all. After another tie, Jaeckel ripped a kill to bring Florida to set point at 24-23 heading into a South Carolina break. Lawing got a kill out of the break before back-to-back attack errors by Jaeckel and Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) gave the Gamecocks a 26-24 first-set win.

 

South Carolina scored the first two points of the second set before the Gators responded with a 4-1 run to go up 4-3 after a block by Jaeckel. Florida broke a 4-4 tie with back-to-back put downs by Anderson and Jaeckel to go ahead 6-4. After the Gamecocks cut within one, 6-5, on a Lawing kill, the Gators took a 9-5 lead following a block by Johnson and Murphy, and a kill by Murphy on successive plays. South Carolina continued fighting to come within two, 11-9, following a 3-0 Gamecock run. Florida extended its edge to five, 14-9, on a block by Anderson and Ward in the middle, but USC kept it close.

 

With Florida ahead 16-13, Anderson and Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) registered a resounding block on the right side to put the Gators in front by four, 17-13. The Gamecocks managed to cut within two, 19-17, after back-to-back kills that forced Wise to burn a timeout. A kill by Rivers and an ace from Rodgers extended UF’s lead to four, 21-17. Florida closed out the set with two kills by Ward and a Jaeckel service ace to take a 25-19 second-set victory.

 

The two teams fought closely to start the third set before back-to-back kills by Ward put the Gators ahead 5-4. Down 7-5 after two kills in a row by Ward, South Carolina tied the score up at 7-all on a Rivers attack error. The Gamecocks scored two of the next three points to take a 9-8 lead and the two teams continued to trade leads. With South Carolina in front 13-12, the Gamecocks ran off two consecutive points to go ahead 15-12 leading into the media timeout.

 

Florida whittled its deficit down to one, 15-14, on a kill by Johnson and a block by Anderson and Ward. The Gamecocks kept rolling to an 18-15 advantage on a Bradosky ace. With the Gators trailing 21-18, Murphy registered a kill to spark a 3-0 run that was capped off by an Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) ace and knotted the score at 21-21. A kill by Murphy and an attack error by South Carolina’s Ivana Kujundzic put the Gators in front 23-21. Florida reached set point at 24-21 after a block by Johnson and Murphy, but the Gamecocks responded to score two in a row to cut within one, 24-23. A Ward kill on the outside gave Florida the 25-23 third-set win.

 

Florida staked to a 3-1 advantage to commence the fourth set and extended its lead out to four, 8-4, following a Murphy kill that forced USC head coach Ben Somera to burn an early timeout. The two teams continued to battle evenly with the Gamecocks cutting within two, 10-8. The Gators managed to pull ahead 16-10, following a 6-2 run that was capped off by a Murphy kill. From there, Florida kept rolling to a 20-11 lead heading into a South Carolina timeout. The Gators closed out the set with a 25-15 victory.

 

South Carolina (10-6, 2-5 SEC) was led by Kujundzic’s team-high 15 kills.

 

The Gators return to action on Sunday when they travel to Baton Rouge, La., to take on the LSU Tigers. Opening serve in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on ESPNU with Anne Marie Anderson and Kelli Tennant and on WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett.

 

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.

 

END OF REPORT

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