Thursday November 11, 2010No. 1 Gators Hold Off Mississippi State
Three Florida players recorded double-figure kills, led by junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel’s (Littleton, Colo.) second double-double of the season, as the No. 1 Gators held off Mississippi State for a 3-1 (25-7, 25-23, 28-30, 25-20) victory on Thursday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The Gators (23-1, 16-0 Southeastern Conference) won their 18th consecutive match, recording double-figures in blocks (13.0) and service aces (10.0). It marked just the second time this season that Florida recorded double-figures in service aces, coming just shy of the team’s season-high 12 aces against Arkansas on Oct. 3. Five UF players recorded double-figures in points in the match.
The Gators improve to 43-14 (.754) all-time when competing on Thursdays, including a 21-5 (.808) mark in Thursday matches under the direction of head coach Mary Wise.
“This was another match where our opponent played extremely well,” Wise said. “Mississippi State, after the first set, really got after it, playing really low error and playing some really aggressive defense. We were a little impatient, but you have to give more credit in the scores to how well Mississippi State played.”
Jaeckel turned in her 14th career double-double with a team-high 12 kills and 12 digs to complement a career-high three block solos and a career-high-tying three service aces for a match-high 18 points.
Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted her 11th consecutive double-double with 10 kills, 26 assists and eight digs to go with three blocks and two service aces for 13.5 total points. Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) registered 10 kills on .500 hitting with two blocks, while senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) totaled nine kills and seven digs.
Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) totaled eight kills on .500 hitting with four blocks, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) added eight kills on .312 hitting with a match-high six blocks. Junior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) tied her season high with four kills on six swings with no errors for a .667 hitting efficiency.
Senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) posted a match-high 16 digs, while freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out a team-high 27 assists. Brown also served three aces, one shy of her career high.
The two teams traded points to begin the second set until a Rivers kill sparked a 7-2 run that put the Gators ahead 11-4 to force Mississippi State head coach Jenny Hazelwood to burn a timeout. Florida continued its run, leading by as many as 14 points when the Gators went in front 20-6 on a block by Wiggs and sophomore outside hitter Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.). A Wiggs kill sparked the final run of the set, with the Gators scoring four consecutive behind strong service by Brown, to give the Gators a 25-7 victory.
Florida hit a stellar .545 hitting efficiency in the opening frame and the seven points that the Gators allowed marked the fewest points that UF has given up since the advent of 25-point sets prior to the start of the 2008 season.
The Gators and the Bulldogs exchanged points in the beginning of the second set until the Gators took a definitive lead at 13-7 with a Ferrell kill forcing a Mississippi State timeout. The teams continued to trade points as Mississippi State slowly crept back and tied things up at 23-23 on an Anderson attack error. However, the Gators came through when they needed it most and Brown fed a perfect set to Anderson to allow the Gators to take set two, 25-23.
Florida and Mississippi State traded points to open the third set before taking the lead behind the serve of Anderson, forcing a Bulldogs timeout with the Gators ahead 10-7. The Bulldogs inched back to tie the set at 10 apiece before the Gators went on their own 3-0 run behind a Bledsoe kill and a Bledsoe-Wiggs block.
The teams continued to trade points until three consecutive Florida errors let the Bulldogs back in, tying the set at 18 and forcing a Florida timeout. The Bulldogs took their first lead since the beginning of the set with back-to-back Florida attack errors, once again forcing a Florida timeout. A Jaeckel kill ended the Mississippi State run but a Murphy service error put the Bulldogs two points away from taking the third set. A Bledsoe kill put the Gators back within reach at 23-22. A Rivers kill nicked the back line and tied the set at 23, forcing the Bulldogs to take their second timeout of the set.
Rivers came through once again for the Gators, giving Florida match point with a kill off the block. Mississippi State answered with back-to-back Mandy Mellencamp kills and served for the set at 25-24. Rivers answered once again with a kill through the seam in the block to tie the set at 25-25. An Ashley Newsome kill gave the Bulldogs their second set point before an Anderson-Wiggs block tied the set again at 26. Another Newsome kill put the Bulldogs ahead, 27-26. A Rivers kill once again tied the set for the Gators, 27-27, but a Rivers service error gave the Bulldogs another set point at 28-27. A Murphy kill tied the set once again for the Gators at 28 apiece. An Anderson service error and a Caitlin Rance kill gave the Bulldogs the third set, 30-28.
The two teams started the fourth set in similar fashion, trading points until Florida took a 9-6 lead on a Bledsoe kill, forcing a Mississippi State timeout. The Gators kept their lead until Mississippi State started their comeback behind their block of Rance and Newsome. The Bulldogs tied the game at 11-11 with a Paris Perret kill on second contact. The teams continued to trade points and the lead until Florida went on a 4-0 run behind the serve of Jaeckel. Two back-to-back Bulldog points forced the Gators to take a timeout at 19-17, but the Gators went on a 5-1 run behind the serve of Brown to reach match point, 24-19. Back-to-back Florida errors allowed the Bulldogs back in before a Rivers kill ended the set, 25-20, and gave the Gators the match.
Mississippi State (11-16, 3-13 SEC) was led by Rance’s 12 kills and 11 digs, while Newsome added 10 put-downs. Perret dished out a match-high 31 assists.
Florida returns to action on Sunday when it plays host to Alabama on Senior Day Sunday. Opening serve is slated for 1 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on 103.7 FM The Gator with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore.
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