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Friday November 13, 2009No. 10/11 Volleyball Falls in Four to No. 19/17 LSU

Gainesville, FL

No. 19/17 LSU’s Brittnee Cooper and Marina Skender combined for 36 of the team’s 52 kills en route to a 3-1 (24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 25-17) win against the No. 10/11 University of Florida volleyball team on Friday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


The Gators (20-4, 14-3 Southeastern Conference) were led by sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.), who turned in a team-high 18 kills as one of three Florida players in double-figure kills. Jaeckel also added nine digs and three blocks for a team-high 20.5 points.


Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted her NCAA Division I leading eighth triple-double of the season and the 14th of her career with 13 kills on .333 hitting with 29 assists and 15 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) followed with 11 kills and seven digs.


“Give credit to LSU – they played very well, especially Marina Skender,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “I thought our team played hard and competed well, but LSU was a tough match-up for us. What they do well, we have trouble stopping. I do think we were much better playing them this time around. Our goal remains the same – to be playing our best volleyball come December. If we can improve as much in the next month as we did from the middle of October to the middle of November, then we have a chance to do well.”


Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) finished with a match-high 20 digs and became just the third player in SEC history to eclipse the 2,000-dig mark for her collegiate career. UF’s all-time career digs leader, Cusack currently ranks third in SEC history in career digs and needs 37 more to tie former Kentucky standout Jenni Casper for second-place all-time.


Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) recorded six kills on .600 hitting with four digs and a team-high four blocks. It marked the 15th time in 24 matches this season that Anderson has charted four or more blocks in a single contest.


“Cassandra played really hard tonight,” Wise said. “There was a lot asked of her to go up against a much older, much bigger player and I think she held her own.”


Junior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) added six kills and three blocks, while junior setter Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa) dished out 18 assists.


LSU raced out to a 4-0 advantage to begin the first set and extended its edge to 7-3 following a Murphy attack error. The Gators battled back within two points at 8-6 thanks to a 3-1 run that was capped off by a Murphy kill and a Cusack ace. The two teams traded points until the Tigers, leading 12-10, used a 4-0 run thanks to four Florida errors to go up 16-10.


The Gators then used a 4-0 run of their own to cut within two, 16-14, on a Rodgers service ace. LSU widened its advantage back to four, 20-16, before Florida began to rally. Down 23-19, the Gators scored three in a row to whittle their deficit down to one, 23-22, and force LSU head coach Fran Flory to burn a timeout. The two teams traded points before Florida broke a 24-24 tie with a kill by Murphy and a Skender attack error to take a 26-24 first-set win.


The Tigers took an early 8-5 lead to begin the second set before a Murphy kill swung the momentum and sparked a 3-0 Florida run that was capped off by an Anderson kill and knotted the score at 8. After two more ties, the Gators used the strong serving of junior defensive specialist Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) to run off three in a row and take a 13-10 lead.


Florida kept rolling to a 17-13 advantage on a kill by Murphy. From there, the Tigers used a 4-1 run to cut within one, 18-17, on a Michele Williams ace. Following a Florida timeout, LSU began to rally, knotting the score at 20-all and going ahead 21-20 after back-to-back Jaeckel attack errors. Following two more ties, the Gators used kills from Rivers and Jaeckel to go up 23-22. A Rodgers service error out of a timeout knotted the score and LSU won the set 25-23.  


The two teams battled evenly to begin the third set before LSU broke a 5-5 tie with five consecutive points to take a 10-5 advantage. The Tigers kept rolling to a 15-9 lead following a Fleming service error. LSU kept rolling in the third set to go up; 20-14 after a Skender kill. Florida rallied and, after back-to-back put-downs by Anderson and Ward brought UF to within four, 21-17, LSU closed the set on a 4-2 run to take a 25-19 third-frame victory.


LSU took a 7-4 lead to begin the fourth set and was up 10-8 before back-to-back kills by Murphy and Ward tied the score at 10-all. After three more ties, a Skender kill and a Jaeckel attack error sparked a 4-0 run by the Tigers that put them ahead 17-13. LSU kept rolling to a 22-16 advantage on a Cooper kill before closing out the 25-17 fourth-set win.


LSU (21-5, 15-2 SEC) was led by Skender’s match-high 20 kills for 21.5 points. Cooper added 16 kills on .500 hitting.


Florida returns to action next Friday, when it travels to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on the Tennessee Lady Vols. Opening serve is set for 7 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett.




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