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Sunday October 11, 2009No. 6 Gators Drop Three-Set Match to LSU

Baton Rouge, LA

LSU placed three players in double-figure kills, led by senior middle blocker Brittnee Cooper’s match-high 18, to post a 3-0 (28-26, 25-20, 25-22) win against No. 6/6 Florida on Sunday evening in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

 

Sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) recorded a team-high 12 kills on .321 hitting to lead the Gators (12-3, 6-2 Southeastern Conference). The Gators out-blocked LSU 7.0-4.0, marking the fourth time in five matches that Florida has won the blocking battle.

 

“LSU played very well tonight,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “They really hit on all cylinders and I thought that their seniors played especially well for them.”

 

Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) charted 21 digs in the match to lead the Florida back-row effort, one dig shy of tying her season-best performance. Cusack, who ranks third all-time in SEC history in career scoops, increases her career digs total to 1,869. She also passed for a perfect 1.000 reception percentage on Sunday in 24 attempts.

 

Junior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) tied her season high with nine kills on .533 hitting, matching her offensive performance from the team’s match against Mississippi State on Sept. 25. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) posted nine kills, 20 assists and four blocks in the match.

 

Senior middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) tied Murphy for the team high in blocks with four. Johnson also had six kills on eight swings for a stellar .750 hitting efficiency. Junior setter Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa) dished out 17 assists and came up with eight digs.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the opening set before LSU broke a 5-5 tie with a kill by Michelle Williams and a three-point serving run by Williams to go ahead 9-5. Out of a Florida timeout, the Gators ran off four consecutive points to knot the score at 9-9. The Tigers then scored two in a row, capped off by a Britnee Cooper kill to go up 11-9. With Florida down 13-10, Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.)  registered a kill on the right side and Ward followed with a service ace to cut the Gators’ deficit to one, 13-12. UF used consecutive kills by Bledsoe and Jaeckel to knot the score at 14-14.

 

Florida went up 15-14 after a block that forced LSU head coach Fran Flory to burn a timeout. After several more ties, a kill by Johnson and an ace by Jaeckel put the Gators up 18-16. Down 20-18, the Tigers used back-to-back kills by Cooper to tie the score at 20-all before a Florida attack error gave LSU a 21-20 advantage. Following two more ties, two kills in a row by Marina Skender brought the Tigers to set point at 24-22. A Jaeckel kill staved off one LSU attempt at the set heading into an LSU timeout. The two teams battled closely until LSU broke a 26-all tie with back-to-back kills to take the opening set 28-26. The first set featured 15 ties and three lead changes.

 

LSU took an early 5-3 advantage in the second set, but the teams continued to play closely, as Florida used back-to-back kills by Bledsoe and Johnson to knot the score at 5-all. After two more ties, the Tigers used back-to-back kills by Sam Dabbs and Cooper to go up 10-7. LSU kept rolling to take a 15-9 advantage that forced Wise to burn a timeout.

 

With Florida down 16-10, the Gators ran off two points in a row, capped off by an Anderson ace to cut within four, 16-12. Florida cut as close as three, 17-14, after a Jaeckel kill, but a Rodgers ace ended the scoring run. Down 20-15, the Gators used consecutive kills by Johnson and Murphy to whittle its deficit down to three, 20-17. UF could get no closer than three points the rest of the set as LSU picked up a 25-20 second-set win.

 

Florida raced out to a 3-1 advantage in the third set and kept rolling to a 5-2 lead. LSU managed to knot the score at 5-all before taking a 6-5 advantage on a Skender kill. The set remained close throughout much of the early going until the Gators broke a 7-7 tie with three consecutive points, including a Murphy kill to go up 10-7 and force an LSU timeout. The Tigers cut within one, 10-9, after a Cooper kill and managed to tie it up at 11-11 after a Ward attack error and a back-row block call against Cusack.

 

The Tigers capped off their 5-2 run with a Cooper block to go up 12-11 heading into a Florida break. The Gators tied the score at 12 after a sharp kill by Murphy on the right side. From there, LSU ran off four of the next five points to reclaim the lead at 16-13. Florida got as close as one, 22-21, following a Tiger attack error that forced Flory to burn a timeout. LSU scored three of the next four points to claim a 25-22 third-set victory.

 

LSU (13-4, 7-1 SEC) was led by Cooper’s match-high 18 kills on .692 hitting with four blocks.

 

Florida returns to action on Friday when it travels to Auburn, Ala., to take on the Auburn Tigers. Opening serve at the Student Activities Center is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on ROCK 104 FM 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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