Friday October 1, 2010Gators Power Past No. 16 LSU
Junior Florida right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted 15 kills on .536 hitting and junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) added 11 kills to direct the No. 2 Gators to a 3-1 (25-16, 20-25, 25-22, 25-18) win against No. 16 LSU on Friday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The Gators (11-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) defeated their eighth top-25 opponent this season, as Florida is now 8-1 against ranked foes over its first 12 matches this season. Florida hit .323 on the match, marking the third consecutive match in which the Gators have hit better than .300. The Gators limited LSU to just a .190 hitting efficiency as Florida has held all but two opponents this season to less than .200 hitting.
“LSU has been averaging over .280 hitting efficiency and showed why in the second set, when they had 20 kills and we just felt like we couldn’t even get a touch on the ball,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We held them to .190 and I felt the difference in the match was that our defense got better as the match went on. In sets three and four, we really played good defense, particularly in blocking.”
Murphy’s 15 kills came on 28 swings with no errors for a season-high .536 hitting efficiency with 15 assists, six digs and four blocks. Jaeckel’s 11 kills went with four digs and two service aces for 13.0 points. Jaeckel increased her career attack attempts total to 1,995 and she needs just five more attacks to become just the 20th player in school history to reach 2,000 career attacks.
“I thought our main thing was that we got better in each set,” Jaeckel said. “I think they’re a really fast team and their speed overwhelmed us in the first two sets and as the match went on, we caught up to it and got used to it. That was the difference.”
Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) followed with eight kills and eight digs, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) added six kills on .385 hitting with a match-high eight blocks.
Senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) charted a match-high 20 digs, just one shy of her career-high 21 recorded against Penn State on Sept. 10, 2010, while freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out a team-high 28 assists.
Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) was one of three Gators with four or more blocks, finishing with four rejections to go along with five kills, while senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Fla.) had five kills on .400 hitting with two service aces.
The two teams battled evenly to open the first set until, tied at two all, the Gators ran off two straight points behind consecutive kills from Anderson and Jaeckel to go up 4-2. LSU cut the lead to one at 5-4, but the Gators responded with a 5-0 run, highlighted by a Jaeckel ace, to widen the lead to 10-4. LSU battled back to within five at 13-8 thanks to an Angela Bensend kill, but the Gators kept rolling. At 17-11, Florida stretched the advantage to 10, firing off four straight points behind a Bledsoe kill and two more from Rivers to go up 21-11. Florida easily closed out the set at 25-16 on a Murphy kill.
The Gators came out firing in the second set, using two consecutive Jaeckel kills to give Florida a 2-1 advantage. The two teams traded points when, tied at 5-5, LSU ran off two consecutive points behind kills from Desiree Elliott and Madie Jones. Florida then knotted the score again at 7-7, thanks to a Murphy kill. With the Gators up 10-9, LSU went on a 3-0 run, highlighted by kills from Bensend and Elliott, to take a 12-10 lead. Murphy then knocked out another kill to level the set at 12 all. The two teams battled closely until, at 18-18, LSU recorded five straight points behind three Bensend kills to take a late 23-18 lead. With a commanding five-point advantage, the Tigers closed out the second set at 25-20 on a final Bensend kill, leveling the match at one set all.
To open the third set, the Gators jumped out to a fast 2-0 lead thanks to a Tiger error and an Anderson kill. The Tigers battled back to tie the score at 6 all behind kills from Williams, Jones and Brittney Johnson. From there, LSU took off, using two straight kills and a Tania Schatow block to take a three-point lead at 9-6. Florida cut the gap to one behind consecutive kills from Rivers and Murphy, bringing the score to 10-9. The Gators then capitalized on a Tiger error to knot the score at 12-12. From there, LSU jumped out to a 14-12 lead thanks to consecutive kills from Jones and Williams. With the Tigers leading 16-13, Florida ran off four straight points, highlighted by a Wiggs kill and two consecutive Bledsoe aces, to regain the lead at 17-16. Ahead 19-18, Florida widened the advantage to three behind a block and a kill from Murphy, bringing the score to 21-18. The Tigers battled back, but Murphy helped keep the Gators ahead, firing off a kill and a service ace in the final few points. The Gators put away the set at 25-20 on a combined block from Wiggs and Bledsoe.
The two teams battled closely once again to begin the fourth set, when LSU broke the 3-3 tie with a 3-0 run, highlighted by a Meghan Mannari ace and a Williams kill, to take a 6-3 lead. Trailing the Tigers 7-5, Florida went on a 4-0 run of their own behind a Jaeckel ace and kills from Jaeckel, Wiggs and Rivers to take a 9-7 lead. LSU cut the Florida lead to one at 12-11, but the Gators widened the advantage to six at 17-11 after several Tiger errors. From there, Florida kept rolling, and the Tigers were not able to catch up. Ahead 22-16, Rivers and Murphy fired off two consecutive kills to stretch the lead to eight at 24-16. The Gators closed out the fourth set and the match at 25-18 on an Anderson kill.
LSU (13-1, 4-1 SEC) was led by three players with 12 or more kills, including a team-high 14 kills by Michele Williams.
Florida returns to action on Sunday when it plays host to Arkansas. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on GatorVision Online and ROCK 104 (103.7 FM in Gainesville) with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore.
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