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Friday November 20, 2009Tennessee Tops Volleyball in Four

Gainesville, Fla.

Tennessee’s Nikki Fowler turned in a match-high 19 kills as one of four Lady Vols to reach double-figures in a 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-22) victory against No. 13/13 Florida on Friday in front of 1,532 fans in Thompson-Boling Arena.

 

Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) posted her NCAA Division I-leading ninth triple-double of the season and the 15th of her career. Murphy charted in 10 kills, 21 assists and 14 digs, to complement four blocks and lead the way for the Gators (20-5, 14-4 Southeastern Conference).

 

Sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) notched her eighth double-double of the year with a team-high 15 kills on .250 hitting with 10 digs. Junior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) turned in nine kills, one shy of her season-high, to complement five digs.

 

Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) recorded a match-high seven blocks to go along with five kills. Senior libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) came up with a match-high 22 digs as one of four Florida players in double-figure dig totals. She now has 2,022 career digs and needs 15 more to tie former Kentucky standout Jenni Casper for second-place all-time in SEC history.

 

Junior setter Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa) recorded her fifth double-double of the year with 21 assists and 11 digs.

 

Tennessee hit .219 in the match, while Florida hit .139. The Gators committed a total of 29 attack errors in the match.

 

Tennessee raced out to a 6-1 advantage to open the first set, forcing head coach Mary Wise to burn an early timeout. The Lady Vols kept adding to their lead out of the break to take an 8-2 edge before a Rivers kill on the right side stopped UT’s scoring spree. The Lady Vols kept rolling to a 13-4 advantage before a patented Murphy kill on the angle ended Florida’s scoring drought. With the Gators down 14-5, Murphy teamed with junior right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) and then Anderson for consecutive blocks to bring UF within seven, 14-7. With Tennessee ahead 15-7, Florida used a 5-2 run to cut within five, 17-12.

 

After the Lady Vols widened their lead back out to six, 19-13, Jaeckel recorded a kill and then followed with an ace to allow UF to whittle its deficit down to four, 19-15, heading into a Tennessee timeout. That was the beginning of a 6-0 run that evened the score at 19-19 after a Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) kill. After another tie at 21-all, Cusack served an ace and Anderson and Ward teamed for a block on the next play to put Florida ahead 23-21. Back-to-back kills by Murphy and Jaeckel closed out the 25-22 comeback first-set victory. Florida trailed by as many as nine points during that frame.

 

Florida jumped to a 6-2 advantage to begin the second set, thanks to a pair of blocks by Anderson and Rivers. The Gators extended their lead to 11-7 on a block solo by Bledsoe. That was the beginning of a 4-1 run by the Gators that put them ahead 14-8 after a kill by Murphy. With Tennessee down 15-9, the Lady Vols used a 3-0 run to cut within three, 15-12. UT hung tough and cut within two, 19-17, on a Ward service error. Tennessee used back-to-back kills by Kayla Jeter and Kylie Marshall and a Kelsey Mahoney ace knotted the score at 21-all. After two more ties, a kill by Fowler brought UT to set point and a Rivers attack error gave UT the 25-23 second-set victory.

 

Florida benefitted from several Tennessee attack errors to jump in front 5-2 to begin the third set. The Lady Vols then took advantage of four attack errors by the Gators and a pair of kills by Nikki Fowler to go up 8-5 heading into a UF timeout. Tennessee kept adding to its advantage to go up 16-7 on a UF attack error. From there, Jaeckel and Murphy recorded back-to-back kills to cut within seven, 16-9. The Lady Vols kept rolling to a 23-12 advantage before two kills by Murphy and a Ward kill off the touch brought the Gators to within eight, 23-15. Tennessee easily closed out the 25-15 third-set victory.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the fourth set until a Florida net violation and a Tennessee block put the Lady Vols ahead 8-6. With the Gators down 9-7, an Anderson kill and a ball-handling error by UT knotted the score at 9-all. A kill by Jaeckel and a Farren Powe attack error gave Florida an 11-9 advantage heading into a timeout called by Tennessee head coach Rob Patrick.

 

The Gators built their advantage back to 15-11 behind the strong serving of Rodgers. With Florida ahead 20-16 after a service error by the Lady Vols, Tennessee ran off a pair of points to whittle its deficit down to two, 20-18, and forced Wise to burn a timeout. An attack error by Murphy and a put-down by Leah Hinkey off an overpass tied the score at 22-22. The Lady Vols closed out the match on a 4-0 run and captured the 25-22 victory after a block by Hinkey and Leslie Cirka.

 

Tennessee (21-7, 14-4 SEC) was led by Fowler’s 19 kills to complement 21 digs by senior libero Chloe Goldman.

 

Florida returns to action on Sunday when it travels to Lexington, Ky., to take on No. 10 Kentucky. Opening serve in Memorial Coliseum is slated for 2 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on SEC-TV/FS South with Dave Baker and Phil Bush and on WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett.

 

END OF REPORT

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