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Sunday November 14, 2010No. 1 Volleyball Clinches Share of 2010 SEC Title

Gainesville, Fla.

The No. 1 University of Florida volleyball team clinched at least a share of the program’s 19th Southeastern Conference volleyball regular-season championship as the Gators defeated Alabama, 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-17) on Senior Day Sunday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Florida’s senior class of Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.), Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) and Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) combined for 18 kills, 15 digs and six blocks on Sunday to direct the Gator offense to a .371 hitting percentage in the final regular-season home match for the Gators in the 2010 campaign.

 

Florida (24-1, 17-0 SEC), which entered the contest with a two-match lead over No. 15 LSU in the league race, benefitted from Kentucky’s thrilling five-set upset of the Tigers on Sunday afternoon in Lexington, Ky., to clinch at least a share of the program’s 19th conference crown. UF’s 19 SEC Championships lead all league volleyball programs in the history of the conference.

 

The SEC title goes down as the third for Florida athletics during the 2010-11 school year, joining women’s soccer and women’s cross country.

 

“Through our play to this point in the season, we have put ourselves in a position to win an SEC title,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “This much we know, today we at least share a championship. Now we go on the road for two straight weekends in three tough environments and try to win the SEC title outright.”

 

Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) led the way for the Gators with 10 kills on 16 swings with no errors for a .625 hitting efficiency, marking her second errorless match this season. Murphy added 15 assists for her 12th consecutive double-double, to complement seven digs, two service aces and two blocks for a match-high 13.0 total points.

 

The Gators hit better than .300 for the 13th time this season and for the sixth time in the last eight matches. Florida out-blocked the Crimson Tide 7.0-1.0, limiting Alabama to just a .062 hitting efficiency. It marked the seventh time this season that the Gators have held their opponent under .100 hitting and Florida leads the league (conference matches only) in hitting efficiency defense, limiting its conference opponents to just a combined .152 clip.

 

“It was a great way to end the regular-season home schedule,” Wise said. “We had some really solid performances by a lot of different people and it is good to end our home season on a high note as we go on the road to three tough places.”

 

Sunday’s match was the final home regular-season contest for Florida’s trio of seniors, who to this point have compiled an overall record of 105-14 (.882), including a league record of 70-7 (.910). They have made three NCAA regional semifinal appearances and have captured three SEC Championships.

 

“Each year, our hope is that our seniors will have their best year in their senior season,” Wise said. “Without question, Erin, Lauren and Callie have done that. That they can end their careers at home on such a high note is terrific. It’s a great opportunity to recognize the seniors in front of the home crowd, but we know that work is still ahead of us.”

 

Bledsoe charted nine kills on .667 hitting with a match-high four blocks for 11.5 total points, while Rivers added nine kills on .333 hitting with six digs and two blocks for 11.0 points. Fleming led the team’s back-row effort with a match-high nine digs.

 

Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.), who on Thursday night registered a double-double, followed up with seven kills and three digs, while sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) added five kills on .444 hitting.

 

Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out a match-high 18 assists to complement five digs, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) turned in three blocks.

 

The teams traded points for much of the first set, with the first Alabama timeout coming after a Murphy kill down the line that put Florida ahead 17-14. The extended their lead to four points, 19-15, courtesy of a Rivers service ace that forced a second Crimson Tide timeout. Alabama crept back in with a kill by Kayla Fitterer that narrowed the Gators’ lead to 19-17 before Florida emerged from a timeout with a 6-0 run to close the set behind Anderson’s strong serving. Two consecutive Bledsoe kills secured the 25-17 first-set victory. UF hit .406 in the opening frame.

 

The Gators got out to a quick start at the beginning of set two, jumping out to a 3-0 lead behind the serve of Anderson. A stuff block by Anderson and Rivers extended the Gators’ lead to six, 9-3, before a back-row kill by Jaeckel gave the Gators their largest lead to that point at seven, 10-3. A Murphy kill through the seam of the Crimson Tide block forced Alabama to take their first timeout of the set at 12-4. The Gators took their second-largest lead of the match at 20-6 off a Murphy kill from a Crimson Tide overpass. Florida’s largest lead of the match came at 22-7 thanks to a Rivers kill. The Gators took the second set off a kill from Wiggs for the 25-10 win. Florida, which hit .455 in that frame, limited Alabama to a -.091 hitting efficiency in the second set.

 

Florida and Alabama battled evenly to commence the third set until a block by Bledsoe and Wiggs and a Murphy service ace on back-to-back plays put the Gators ahead, 6-3, forcing a Crimson Tide timeout. A back-row tip from Rivers and a Wiggs kill extended the Gators’ lead, 9-5. A Murphy-Anderson block gave the Gators a six-point lead, 12-6. The teams then began to trade points before Florida went on a 5-0 run to go up 20-11 on a block by Bledsoe and Jaeckel. Alabama began to creep back in, getting as close as 24-17, before a Murphy kill put the set away, 25-17.

 

The Crimson Tide (10-17, 2-15 SEC) were led by six kills from freshman middle blocker Shelbi Goode. Kayla Fitterer, the league’s kill leader against conference opponents entering the match and the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, was limited to just three kills on a -.125 hitting efficiency.

 

The Gators improve to 34-0 all-time vs. Alabama, including a 32-0 mark under Wise’s direction.

 

Florida returns to action on Friday, when it travels to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on Arkansas. Opening serve in Barnhill Arena is slated for 8 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on WRUF Sports Radio 850 with Tom Collett. Each of the Gators’ final three regular-season matches will be on the road.

 

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.

 

SEC VOLLEYBALL STANDINGS (AS OF NOV. 14, 2010)

 

Eastern Division

Team

Overall

SEC

Florida

24-1

17-0

Tennessee

22-6

13-5

Kentucky

16-12

10-8

Georgia

13-16

4-13

South Carolina

7-20

4-13


Western Division

Team

Overall

SEC

LSU

23-3

14-3

Ole Miss

19-8

13-5

Auburn

17-12

8-9

Arkansas

13-15

7-10

Mississippi State

11-17

3-14

Alabama

10-17

2-15

 

TUESDAY’S SEC MATCHES

Georgia 3, Kennesaw State 0

 

THURSDAY’S SEC MATCHES

Florida 3, Mississippi State 1

 

FRIDAY’S SEC MATCHES

South Carolina 3, Alabama 1

Kentucky 3, Arkansas 0

Ole Miss 3, Georgia 1

LSU 3, Tennessee 1

 

SATURDAY’S SEC MATCHES

South Carolina 3, Mississippi State 2

 

SUNDAY’S SEC MATCHES

Florida 3, Alabama 0

Tennessee 3, Arkansas 0

Kentucky 3, LSU 2

Ole Miss 3, Auburn 2

 

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