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Wednesday October 27, 2010Rivers Leads No. 1 Gators Past South Carolina

Gainesville, Fla.

Senior Florida outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) charted a match-high-tying 11 kills on 21 swings with no errors for a .524 hitting efficiency Wednesday to direct her team to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-13) win against South Carolina on a primetime showdown on ESPNU in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


“Callie Rivers played pretty special tonight both in the front row and back row,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “She had one of the best performances of her career tonight.”


The Gators (19-1, 12-0 Southeastern Conference) won their 14th consecutive match and posted their seventh sweep in the last eight matches. Florida, which entered the match with the 16th-best hitting efficiency in the NCAA, hit .323 for the match, marking its third consecutive match hitting better than .300. The Gators limited the Gamecocks to just an .057 hitting efficiency, marking their second-best hitting-percentage defense of the season and their best in a conference match this year. It marked the fourth time this year that Florida has held an opponent under .100 hitting for the match. The Gators out-blocked the Gamecocks 9.0-2.0.


“No surprise, South Carolina came in and played really gritty defense,” Wise said. “Their libero [Hannah Lawing] made some terrific plays, but I thought our team really did a great job of responding.”


Rivers’ 11 kills on 21 swings with no errors complemented a career-high-tying four service aces and five digs for 15.0 total points. Her .524 hitting percentage was a season-best and marked her best hitting efficiency since swinging at a .545 clip against Auburn on Nov. 8, 2009.


“Our team played really well and the setters did a really good job of dishing the ball, so a lot of people were one-on-one,” Rivers said. “That’s what makes it easier to go errorless. I think South Carolina played great defense – their libero is one of the best in the league. She really played great against us.”


Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted her seventh consecutive double-double and her 14th of the season with 11 kills on .375 hitting and 12 assists. Murphy also served three aces, posted five digs and charted three block assists for a match-high 15.5 points.


Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) recorded seven kills on a .308 hitting efficiency with two blocks, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) had four kills on .333 hitting with a match-high six blocks.


Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out a match-high 19 assists, while junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) posted a team-high nine digs and three blocks.


Florida raced out to a quick 3-1 lead behind a block from Anderson and Murphy, and kills from Murphy and Rivers to open the first set. Down by two at 6-4, the Gamecocks battled back, running off three consecutive points, highlighted by kills from Christina Glover and Juliette Thevenin, to take a slim one-point lead over the Gators at 7-6. Florida responded with a 3-0 run of its own, thanks to a block from Wiggs and Anderson, along with consecutive kills from Murphy and Anderson, to retake the lead at 9-7, but the gap didn’t last long. 


With Florida leading by two at 10-8, two straight Olivia Ryder kills knotted the score again at 10-all. The teams traded points when, at 11-11, the Gators broke out with four consecutive points behind a Murphy ace and kills from Bledsoe and Murphy to take a four-point lead at 15-11. The Gamecocks cut the Florida advantage to two points at 15-13 on a Megan Laughlin kill, but the Gators responded with a 7-0 tear, highlighted by three Rivers kills and a Jaeckel service ace, to take a commanding 22-13 lead. South Carolina rallied on Florida’s set point at 24-16, firing off four consecutive points behind two Taylor Bruns service aces and kills from Laughlin and Teresa Stenlund to bring the score to 24-20, but the Gators were able to close out the first set at 25-20 on a Rivers kill.


The two teams battled evenly to begin the second set until, tied at seven all, a Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) kill and a Gamecock error gave Florida a two-point lead at 9-7. The teams traded points until the Gators, still leading by two at 13-11, stretched their advantage to four behind a Bledsoe kill and a block from Murphy and Bledsoe, bringing the score to 15-11. From there, the Gators kept rolling. Ahead 17-15, Florida scored four straight points, highlighted by two Rivers kills, another from Murphy and an Anderson/Murphy block, to widen the gap to six at 21-15. From there, Florida easily wrapped up the second set at 25-17 on a 4-0 run, ending with consecutive Murphy kills.


The Gators came out firing in the third set, breaking out with nine straight points, highlighted by kills from Murphy and Anderson, along with three Rivers aces and a Jaeckel block to take a sizeable 10-1 lead early in the set. The Gamecocks tried to get back in the game with kills from Frankie Vain and Thevenin, bringing the score to 12-4, but with the Gators ahead by eight at 13-5, a Wiggs kill and a block from Anderson and Wiggs stretched the Florida advantage to 10 at 15-5.


The Gators ran off another three straight points at 15-6 behind a pair of South Carolina errors and a Murphy kill to bring the score to 18-6. Late in the set, the Gamecocks rallied with a 3-0 run at 22-10 thanks to a Thevenin kill and two Gator errors to cut the Florida lead to nine at 22-13. From there, Florida fired off three straight points of its own, highlighted by a Murphy ace and a South Carolina attack error, to close out the set and the match at 25-13. Florida limited the Gamecocks to a -.042 hitting efficiency in the final frame.


South Carolina (5-17, 2-10 SEC) was led by Thevenin’s eight kills and Hannah Lawing’s match-high 16 digs.


Florida returns to action on Friday when it travels to Oxford, Miss., to take on SEC Western Division leader Ole Miss. Opening serve is slated for 8 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on WRUF Sports Radio 850 with Tom Collett.


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