Friday October 23, 2009Cusack Breaks Another Milestone As Volleyball Sweeps Arkansas
Sophomore Florida outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) registered a team-high 10 kills on .500 hitting Friday and senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) became just the third player in Southeastern Conference history to surpass the 1,900-dig mark for her career to lead the No. 10/11 Gators to a 3-0 (25-12, 25-18, 25-16) victory against Arkansas in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The Gators (15-3, 9-2 SEC) recorded a .392 hitting percentage – their third-best offensive efficiency mark of the season - in the match and out-blocked their opponent for 10.0-4.0. Florida out-dug Arkansas 33-28 and held a 40-29 advantage in kills.
Jaeckel’s 10 kills came on 20 swings with no errors for a .500 hitting efficiency to complement a match-high 12 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. She also added a career-high-tying three service aces and a block solo for a match-high 14.0 points.
“The goal for this match was to win the serving, passing and blocking battles,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We felt if we could do that in those three areas tonight, then this would be a match that we would win. That’s exactly what happened tonight with eight service aces, 10 blocks and we passed so well. We performed at a very high level in all three of those areas, particularly the play of Kristy Jaeckel. She had 10 kills with no errors, three aces, 12 digs and one block. She had a great match.”
Cusack finished the match with 11 digs to increase her career total to 1,906. She becomes the first player in school history and just the third in SEC history to reach 1,900 digs for her collegiate career.
“I have just worked hard since I’ve been here and it has paid off,” Cusack said. “It’s always nice to have your name in the record book, but right now, it is all about team effort and winning one match at a time.”
Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) charted a nine kills on .333 hitting with three blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) posted a match-high five blocks, marking her 12th match this season with four or more blocks. She also contributed six kills on .417 hitting.
Junior setter Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa) served up a career-high four service aces, including a stretch of three consecutive aces in the second set. Rodgers also dished out a match-high 20 assists.
Reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) chipped in seven kills on 11 swings with no errors for a .636 hitting efficiency to complement 11 assists. Murphy shined in the third set, when she charted four of her seven put-downs.
Jaeckel was the key momentum builder for the Gators in the first set against Arkansas. After a slow start, trading points all the way up to 4-4, the Gators were finally able to break away from the Razorbacks. Jaeckel led the scoring run with four kills and an impressive single block to give UF a 10-6 advantage heading into an Arkansas timeout. Florida went on an eight-point scoring streak before the Razorbacks’ Amanda Anderson recorded a kill to stop the streak with the Gators up 18-8. Florida allowed only four points the remainder of the set and closed out the 25-12 win on a kill by redshirt freshman middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.)
The two teams battled evenly to begin the second set. Trailing 6-5, Florida ran off four consecutive kills thanks to a kill by Johnson and three consecutive service aces by Rodgers, to go up 9-6. The Gators extended their advantage to 15-10 after a kill by Ward heading into a media timeout. Arkansas battled back to get as close as one point, 16-15, but Jaeckel recorded a kill and then back-to-back attack errors by the Razorbacks put Florida ahead 19-15. The Gators closed out the second set on a 6-3 run to take a 25-18 victory.
Florida began the third set with a quick 2-0 lead after kills by Jaeckel and Murphy. The Razorbacks capitalized on several errors by the Gators to knot the score at 5-5. After Florida pulled ahead 8-6 on a kill by Anderson, Arkansas again tied the score at 9-9. The Gators benefitted from a 4-1 run to go up 14-10 after a Murphy kill and a Razorback attack error. A block solo by Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) and a block by Anderson and Ward on the following play moved Florida ahead 18-12 heading into an Arkansas timeout. The Gators closed out the 25-16 victory on Rodgers’ fourth service aces of the match.
Arkansas (10-12, 4-7 SEC) was led by freshman standout Jasmine Norton, who tallied a match-high 11 kills. Florida held the Razorbacks to a .110 hitting percentage for the match.
Florida returns to action on Sunday when it hosts Ole Miss at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Opening serve is set for 1:30 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on 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 goal for this match was to win the serving, passing and blocking battles. We felt if we could do that in those three areas tonight, then this would be a match that we would win. That’s exactly what happened tonight with eight service aces, 10 blocks and we passed so well. We performed at a very high level in all three of those areas, particularly the play of Kristy Jaeckel. She had 10 kills with no errors, three aces, 12 digs and one block. She had a great match.”
On if the team’s blocking is starting to click …
“I hope so, but we are only as good as our next match in blocking. The team has embraced it and they are now doing the technical things needed to block balls. There are two steps that signify effort; one is digging and the other is block assists. You have to work really hard to get block assists. Our middles - KJ and Cassandra - both worked awfully hard tonight getting themselves in position to get blocks; and even though 33 digs does not jump off the charts, we did not get a chance to dig as many balls, because we were serving aces and blocking balls.”
On the career-high four service aces by junior Brynja Rodgers …
“Brynja has played so few matches here in the O’Connell Center, you wonder if we would have had four years with her here, what she could do with her serve and the amount of room she has. We cannot play nearly enough in this gym for her.”
On the play of junior right-side Callie Rivers …
“Blocking on the right side is very different from blocking on the left. Everyday she is learning and getting better. Some of the best plays tonight were when she went one-on-one, made adjustments and made blocks.”
On senior libero Elyse Cusack reaching 1,900 career digs …
“Elyse has been the glue to this team; anchoring the serve-receive with young players around her. She is the heart and soul of this team and it shows every day in practice and every night when she goes out to play.”
#7 Elyse Cusack, Sr., L
On the 3-0 win against Arkansas …
“Tonight was a great win for us. Every phase of the game was working for us. Our defense was great and ur blocking definitely stepped up tonight. We played with really great effort tonight.”
On breaking the 1,900-dig plateau for her career …
“It’s always nice to have your name in the record book. I just have worked hard since I’ve been here and it has paid off. It will be something nice to look back upon when I’m older. But right now, it is all about team effort and winning one match at a time.”
#2 Brynja Rodgers, Jr., S
On Florida having posted three consecutive sweeps …
“Things are really clicking for us right now. We’re really getting into the groove of things. We’ve been working really hard lately. Sometimes it takes a loss to get a team going. We’ve been in the gym working hard and, tonight, it paid off for us.”
On her three consecutive aces in the second set …
“Serving is just one part of the match. You’ve got to start off well and hit a good ball and then have a good defense and some good blocks on your side.”
END OF REPORT