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Sunday October 10, 2010Strong Serving, Balance Lead Gators to Sweep of Mississippi State

Starkville, Miss.

Junior Florida right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) recorded a match-high 13 kills on .476 hitting and senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) had nine kills on .692 hitting with a career-high four aces to lead the No. 2 Gators to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-16) win against Mississippi State on Sunday in the Newell-Grissom Building.

 

The Gators (14-1, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) hit .327 on the match with nine service aces. Florida won the blocking battle 7.0-3.0 and did not commit a reception error in the match. The Gators held the Bulldogs to just a .161 hitting efficiency, as Florida has limited all but two opponents this season to less than .200 hitting.

 

Florida’s middle blockers – Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Bledsoe – both were errorless on the match, each hitting better than .600. Bledsoe had nine kills on 13 swings with no errors for a .692 hitting efficiency and a career-high four service aces, while Anderson posted eight kills on 12 swings for .667 hitting.

 

“I thought Lauren [Bledsoe] and Cassandra [Anderson] both played really well today,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “They anchored our defense that held Mississippi State to just .161 hitting, touched a lot of balls and were equally impressive offensively. We rely heavily on our middle blockers and they were very good today.”

 

Murphy totaled a match-high 14.5 points, charting a double-double with 21 assists to go along with her 13 kills. She also recorded seven digs in the match. Three Gators – Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.), Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) and Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) posted five kills apiece, while Jaeckel added three blocks and six digs for 7.5 total points.

 

Senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) headed Florida’s back-row effort with a match-high 14 digs to complement two service aces, while freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out 16 assists.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set before a powerful kill by Jaeckel on the outside broke a 5-5 tie and sparked a 3-0 run that ended with a Bledsoe kill and put Florida ahead 8-5. The Gators kept rolling to an 11-7 advantage following back-to-back Mississippi State errors. From there, the Bulldogs cut within two at 11-9 after a kill by Chanelle Baker and a Jaeckel attack error. A Bledsoe kill sparked a 4-0 Florida run that was capped off with a Bledsoe ace to extend UF’s lead to six, 15-9, and force MSU head coach Jenny Hazelwood to burn a timeout.

 

Out of the break, the Gators kept rolling with five consecutive points, including three consecutive service aces by Bledsoe to go ahead by 11, 20-9. Mississippi State scored two points out of the timeout to cut within nine, 20-11, and later whittled its deficit down to eight at 21-13. An Anderson kill stopped Florida’s scoring drought and the Gators closed out the set with a Murphy kill and a Fleming ace for the 25-14 victory. UF hit .320 in the opening frame with six service aces during that set.

 

Mississippi State opened up to a 5-3 advantage to begin the second set after a kill by Ashley Newsome and a Jaeckel attack error broke an early 3-3 tie. A block by Anderson and Jaeckel and an ace from Fleming allowed the Gators to rally and knot the score at 5-all. After another tie, a kill by Jaeckel, a Wiggs block solo and a Murphy ace allowed Florida to take a 8-6 edge. The two teams began trading points for much of the set before the Bulldogs, trailing 15-12, ran off three points in a row, the last a Wiggs attack error, to tie the score at 15-15 heading into a Florida timeout. Following another tie at 16-all, Bledsoe recorded a resounding kill in the middle and Mississippi State committed an attack error to give the Gators an 18-16 advantage.

 

A kill by State’s Caitlin Rance and an attack error by Wiggs knotted the score at 18. Florida reclaimed the advantage at 19-18 on a block by Anderson and sophomore middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) on the right side. That was the first of three straight points by the Gators that gave them a 21-18 edge. With Florida ahead 21-19, back-to-back kills by Murphy, including a craft put down off an overpass, gave the Gators a 23-19 advantage and forced a Mississippi State timeout. A kill by Murphy brought the Gators to set point at 24-19 and a Jaeckel kill gave Florida the 25-20 second-set win.

 

Florida opened to a 5-3 lead in a closely-contested third set, as the two teams traded points for much of the early going. With the Gators ahead 7-6, kills by Jaeckel, Rivers and Bledsoe on consecutive plays sparked a 3-0 Florida run to extend its advantage to 10-6. After a pair of points by the Bulldogs brought them within two, 10-8, the Gators kept rolling to a 13-9 edge following a Rivers kill on the outside. From there, Newsome charted back-to-back kills to spark a 3-0 run that whittled Mississippi State’s deficit down to one, 13-12.

 

Anderson and Murphy then posted consecutive kills and Rivers served an ace to put Florida up by four, 16-12, and force a MSU timeout. Florida scored three consecutive points out of the timeout behind Rivers’ strong serving, a run that included a number of acrobatic plays that gave the Gators a 19-12 lead. Florida had no trouble in closing out the 25-16 win on a Bledsoe kill in the middle.

 

Mississippi State (10-8, 2-4 SEC) was led by Rance’s 10 kills on .241 hitting, while Newsome added eight kills. Newsome, who entered the match as the SEC’s second-leading blocker with 1.29 rejections per set, was limited to just one block assist in the match.

 

Florida returns to action on Friday when it plays host to Auburn. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is slated for 4 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on GatorVision Online and WRUF-AM 850 with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore.

 

For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/volleyball. Follow Florida Volleyball on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GatorZoneVB and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GatorMary.

 

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