Saturday September 11, 2010No. 4 Florida Volleyball Defeats Fourth Top-15 Opponent This Season
No. 4 Florida survived a late surge from No. 5 Texas to hold on for a 3-2 win (25-11, 27-25, 16-25, 20-25, 16-14) in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday evening at the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic.
The Gators (6-1), who have posted four wins against top-15 opponents already this season, improved to 2-0 this year in five-set matches. Florida won the first two sets, before Texas battled back to win the second two frames. The Gators took a 16-14 victory in the final frame, holding the Longhorns to a .000 offensive efficiency in that set.
It was certainly a match that had it all,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “It featured all the drama that you could write or script. Up 2-0, lose two straight, get down 4-1 in the fifth, get the lead in the fifth, lose the lead and come back. It’s the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic and it was big drama, two nights in a row. It’s great for college volleyball.”
Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), who was named to the All-Tournament Team, posted 13 kills on .355 hitting with 19 assists, eight digs and four blocks to lead the Gators with 16.0 total points. For the weekend, Murphy averaged 3.00 kills per set on .328 hitting with 4.11 assists per set with 2.22 digs per set and 0.78 blocks per set.
“I think we learned that when everything is on, we can be a really good team, but we just need to learn to be more consistent,” Murphy said. “I thought this weekend that we were kind of up and down and I just think that if we can take something from this weekend, it’s that we can be more focused throughout the entire match.”
Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.), who also earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team, nearly charted a double-double with 10 kills and nine digs to go along with four blocks for 13.0 total points. Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) added nine kills and seven digs, while senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) chipped in six kills, two service aces and four blocks.
Senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) led Florida’s back-row play with a team-high 13 digs, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.), Bledsoe and Murphy each had four blocks. Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out 18 assists, came up with six digs and served a career-high four aces.
The Gators traded points with the Longhorns in the first set until 4-3, when Brown took over the serving duties for the Gators and rattled off four consecutive points, including a topspin ace, to make it 8-3. The momentum shift for the Gators came at 14-7, when 2009 third-team All-American Juliann Faucette was stuffed by a block from Bledsoe and Jaeckel. The largest lead of the set came at 22-10 with a Texas net violation, forcing a timeout. A Rachael Adams kill ended Florida’s run at 22-11, but the Gators won two quick points off the serve of Rivers to post the 25-11 first-set victory.
The second set began similarly to the first, with the teams swapping the lead until driving kills by Murphy and Jaeckel gave the Gators the lead at 5-4. A valiant save effort by Jaeckel dropped in the middle of Texas’ defense and gave the Gators an 8-5 lead. Bledsoe and Tangerine Wiggs followed that up with a stuff block to force the Longhorns into a timeout. Behind the serve of Faucette, Texas came back to within one, 13-12. The teams once again traded points for the duration of the set until a Kelly Murphy kill gave the Gators their second set point at 26-25. A Fleming ace gave the Gators a set two win, 27-25.
After the intermission, the Longhorns came back a different team. They opened the third set with four straight points, but behind the serve of Brown, the Gators tied things up at 5-all with a Brown service ace. The teams once again traded points until the Longhorns began a 5-0 run behind the serve of Amber Roberson. A block by Bledsoe and Jaeckel allowed the Gators to cut within seven at 22-15, but it wasn’t enough as the Longhorns rattled off three quick points to take the third set, 25-16.
The fourth set began in similar fashion with the teams trading points before the Longhorns began to pull away off a Sha’Dare McNeal kill at 6-3. A Bledsoe kill on the right side brought the Gators to within two at 8-6, but two quick points from Texas gave the Longhorns a 10-6 lead, forcing a Florida timeout. The teams continued to side out before a Jaeckel kill put the Gators within one at 13-12. The Longhorns began to pull away once again but a Murphy kill out of the second Florida timeout put the Gators within three at 17-14. Kills from Rivers and Jaeckel brought the Gators back within two. After a four-point Longhorn run, the Gators were able to slow down Texas’ offense with a Rivers stuff block, but the Longhorns capitalized on Gator errors soon after and quickly had set point. An Adams kill gave the Longhorns the set, 25-20.
The fifth set started out strong for the Gators with a block by Anderson and Murphy. The teams traded points once again, highlighted by another Rivers block and Murphy winning a joust at the net with Jennifer Doris. The Gators took the lead definitely after a Jaeckel ace. A block by Bledsoe and Wiggs put the Gators up, 12-8, but two big Longhorn kills put Texas back within two. Wiggs had a huge swing on the right side for a 13-10 advantage, but a Faucette kill and two Florida attack errors tied things up at 14. Brown came up big for the Gators, serving up two back-to-back aces to win it for the Gators, 16-14.
“These matches these past two nights have been such good learning opportunities for our team going into conference play,” Wise said.
Florida returns to action on Friday when it opens Southeastern Conference play at No. 16 Kentucky. The match will be carried live on ROCK 104 (103.7 FM in Gainesville) with Tom Collett.
For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, log on to www.GatorZone.com/volleyball or, for up-to-the-minute information, follow the team’s Twitter account @GatorZoneVB.
NIKE VOLLEYBALL BIG FOUR CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
MVP: Alix Klineman, Stanford
Kelly Murphy, Florida
Blair Brown, Penn State
Cassidy Lichtman, Stanford
Arielle Wilson, Penn State
Rachael Adams, Texas
Callie Rivers, Florida