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Saturday November 28, 2009No. 15 Volleyball Defeats Notre Dame, 3-1

Gainesville, FL

Junior Florida right-side Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) turned in a season-high 14 kills on .500 hitting as one of three Gators in double-figure kills Saturday in a 3-1 (25-13, 27-29, 25-15, 25-9) win against No. 25 Notre Dame in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


The Gators (23-5, 16-4 Southeastern Conference) hit .365 in the match and out-blocked the Fighting Irish 9.0-4.0. Florida, playing its second match in as many days, honored seniors Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) and Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) for playing in their final home regular-season match.


“This was the perfect match for us to play on very little time to prepare,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We were playing a team tonight that we are not very familiar with. They are a very senior-dominated team that plays with an aggressive hitting style. It wasn’t until we started blocking some balls that the match was in hand.”


Rivers’ 14 kills came on .500 hitting with seven digs and four blocks for a match-high 17.0 points. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), setting primarily in a 5-1 offensive scheme, finished with 12 kills on .579 hitting with a match-high 41 assists, eight digs and two blocks. Murphy also served a career-high-tying three aces for 16.0 total points.


Sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) just missed a double-double, notching 10 kills and nine digs for 13.0 total points. Sophomore outside hitter Colleen Ward (Naperville, Ill.) chipped in nine kills and 10 digs.


Cusack, the team’s senior libero, charted a match-high 23 digs to increase her career total to 2,092. She now needs 35 more digs to become the SEC’s all-time career digs leader.


Sophomore middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) turned in a match-high six blocks to complement seven kills on .455 hitting. It marked the ninth time this season that Anderson has charted six or more blocks in a single match.


Florida now awaits the NCAA selection show that will take place at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPNews to find out its postseason path. The team is anticipating its 19th consecutive berth in volleyball’s version of the Big Dance.


“Now we sit back and find out where they are going to send us,” Wise said. “It does not matter where they are going to send us or who we will play. I think that we are playing our best volleyball at this point in the year and we will see how far that will take us.”


Florida raced out to a 6-1 advantage in the first set following a Rivers ace. The Gators kept rolling behind a strong service run by Jaeckel that included two aces to extend the team’s advantage to 10-2. The two teams began trading points as Notre Dame slowly began working its way back into the set, cutting within six, 15-9 on a Jamel Nicholas service ace. From there, the strong serving of Rivers sparked a 6-0 run by the Gators that put them ahead 21-9. Florida closed out the 25-13 first-set win on a Cusack kill.


The two teams battled evenly to begin the second set until Notre Dame, leading 12-11, ran off three consecutive points to go up 15-11 on a ball-handling error by Brynja Rodgers (Iowa City, Iowa). The Fighting Irish widened their advantage to 20-16 on a Cusack service error. Four consecutive Florida kills by four different players allowed the Gators to tie the score at 20-all. After five more ties, Notre Dame ran off two in a row to take a 29-27 win on a set-ending block.


With Florida leading 10-9 to begin the third set, the Gators used a 4-1 run to go up 14-10 after a Rivers kill. UF kept rolling to a 17-13 advantage on a kill by Ward. Notre Dame scored just two more points the rest of the way in a 25-15 third-set win that was capped off by an Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) ace and back-to-back kills by Jaeckel and Anderson.


Florida scored the first five points of the fourth set, all coming from consecutive kills, before Notre Dame rallied to cut within one, 5-4, on a put-down by Christina Kaelin. Florida then scored four in a row to go up 9-4 on a Murphy service ace. The Gators had no trouble closing out a 25-9 victory as the Fighting Irish scored just four more points the remainder of the frame.


Notre Dame (21-6, 14-0 BIG EAST) was led by 12 kills and 12 digs by Kristen Dealy.


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