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Sunday November 22, 2009Cusack Eclipses Another Milestone as No. 13 Gators Defeat No. 10 Kentucky

Lexington, KY

Senior Florida libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) moved into sole possession of second place on the Southeastern Conference’s all-time career digs list and four Gators recorded double-figure kills in a 3-1 (31-29, 25-23, 24-26, 25-21) win against No. 10 Kentucky on Sunday in Memorial Coliseum.

 

Cusack turned in a season-high 33 digs to increase her career total to 2,055 scoops. She surpassed former Kentucky standout Jenni Casper for second-place on the league’s all-time career digs list.

 

Florida (21-5, 15-4 SEC) recorded double-figure team blocks for the eighth time this season, out-blocking the Wildcats 10.0-7.0 in the match. Four Gators tallied double-figure kills, marking the 12th time this season that three or more players have reached the double-figure kill plateau in the same contest.

 

“I think this was just a great match of high-level volleyball,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “It was two very good teams battling with such great rallies. We feel very fortunate to have won and have to give credit to a good Kentucky team that really battled without its senior setter for most of the match.”

 

Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) charted a team-high 14 kills on .325 hitting with a career-high 18 digs to mark her fourth double-double of the season. Junior right-side Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) was a force for the team in the middle and on the right, recording 13 kills on .345 hitting with a season-high five blocks.

 

Sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) tallied 12 kills and 13 digs for her ninth double-double of the year, while junior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) had a season-high 11 kills with eight digs and three block assists.

 

Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted a career-high 43 assists as the Gators used a 5-1 offense for the majority of the contest.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set before Kentucky rattled off five consecutive points to break a 7-7 tie and go ahead 12-7 heading into a Florida timeout. Out of the break, a service error by the Wildcats and an ace from Jaeckel narrowed the Gators deficit to three, 12-9. After the two teams traded points, Florida used back-to-back kills by Ward and Rivers and an attack error by Sarah Mendoza to whittle its deficit down to one, 14-13, heading into a UK timeout.

 

With Florida trailing by one, 16-15, after a Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) kill, the Wildcats scored two in a row to go up 18-15 on a Lauren Rapp kill. Kentucky used back-to-back put-downs by Pavan and Rapp to extend its advantage to 20-16. With UF down 21-17, the Gators used a 4-1 run to cut within 22-21 on back-to-back kills by Ward and Rivers. Florida managed to knot the score at 23-23. After five more ties, a kill by Ward and a block by Anderson and Rivers on consecutive plays gave Florida the 31-29 first-set victory.

 

Florida scored the first three points of the second set and raced to a 7-1 advantage that was capped off by a Bledsoe service ace. With the Gators up 8-2, Florida committed four attack errors in five plays to bring Kentucky within three, 9-6. The Wildcats then got three consecutive kills by three different players to whittle their deficit down to one, 10-9, heading into a UF timeout.

 

The Gators widened their advantage to four, 14-10, and kept rolling to a 18-13 advantage on a Murphy ace. From there, Kentucky cut within three, 18-15, and continued to narrow its deficit to one, 21-20, after two consecutive kills and a service ace. After two ties, the Gators broke a 23-23 all score with consecutive points, including a Murphy kill to go take the second set 25-23.

 

The two teams fought closely at the beginning of the third set until a pair of blocks helped jump start a 12-9 start to the match by the Gators, capped off by a Jaeckel kill. Kentucky rallied to cut within one, 13-12, and the two teams continued to fight back-and-forth. Neither team had more than a two-point advantage during that stretch.

 

After a 17-all tie, the two teams were knotted three more times. A Ward attack error and a Rapp kill gave Kentucky a 22-20 advantage. Ahead 24-22, back-to-back attack errors by the Wildcats knotted the score at 24-24. A Pavan kill and a Jaeckel attack error on back-to-back plays gave Kentucky the 26-24 third-set win.

Florida took a 6-4 advantage to begin the fourth set following back-to-back kills by Jaeckel and Ward. With Florida up 9-6 after a Murphy kill, two Gator attack errors and sparked a 4-0 Kentucky run that put the Wildcats ahead 10-9. After a tie at 11, Ward recorded a kill and Blaire Hiler committed an attack error to bring UF in front 13-11.

 

With Florida up by one, 15-14, the Gators ran off four consecutive points to go ahead 19-14. Out of a Kentucky timeout, the Wildcats rattled off three in a row to cut within two, 19-17. Florida rolled at the end to close out the 25-21 victory on a Ward kill.

 

Pavan had a match-high 17 kills on .364 hitting to lead Kentucky (27-3, 17-2 SEC).

 

Florida returns to action on Friday when it plays host to South Carolina in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Opening serve is slated for 4 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on GatorZone.com 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 Volleyball Regional. For ticket information, log on to www.GatorZone.com/tickets.

 

END OF REPORT

 

 

 

 

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