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Friday November 19, 2010No. 1 Gators Secure 2010 SEC Title Outright

Fayetteville, Ark.

Senior Florida outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) turned in her third double-double of the season with 11 kills and 10 digs as the No. 1 Florida volleyball team clinched the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship outright with a 3-1 (25-17, 25-27, 25-11, 25-20) victory against Arkansas on Friday evening in Barnhill Arena.

 

The Gators (25-1, 18-0 SEC), who out-blocked the Razorbacks 7.0-1.0 over the final two sets of the match, extended the nation’s longest streak of consecutive 25-win seasons to 20 with Friday’s victory. Florida, which utilized a balanced offensive effort that saw six players record eight or more kills in the match, hit .331 for the match, marking the 14th time this season that the Gators have hit .300 or better in a single match.

 

“Typical of SEC road matches, Arkansas played very well against us, especially in set two,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “I thought our team really responded, specifically in sets three and four, and the difference in the match was really our defense and blocking.”

 

Florida, which clinched a share of the league crown last Sunday, secured the 2010 conference championship with Friday’s win. The Gators have two matches remaining in the 2010 regular season, including Sunday’s 2 p.m. ET contest at LSU. The league title is the 19th in Florida volleyball history, which leads the SEC for most volleyball conference championships.

 

“Earning the SEC title is something that the players will take with them for a long time and is something that is part of the legacy of our senior class,” Wise said. “But we also know we have a lot of our goals still in front of us.”

 

In the match, the Gators out-blocked the Razorbacks 10.0-5.0, marking the 13th time this season that Florida has reached double-figure block totals and the fourth time in the last five matches.

 

Rivers scored a team-high 14.0 points with her 11 kills and 10 digs to complement a team-high two service aces. Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) added 11 kills and eight digs to go along with three blocks.

 

Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted her 13th consecutive double-double and her 21st double-dip of the year, just missing a triple-double with nine kills on .333 hitting with 21 assists and 11 digs to complement four blocks.

 

Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) registered nine kills on .467 hitting with a match-high five blocks, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) had eight kills on .353 hitting with four digs and three blocks for 9.5 total points. Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) also added eight kills on .438 hitting.

 

Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out a team-high 29 assists to go with seven digs, while senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) headed the squad’s back-row effort with a match-high 14 digs.

 

The two teams battled evenly to begin the first set before an Arkansas block and a Jaeckel attack error gave the Razorbacks an early 5-3 advantage. Murphy and Jaeckel responded with back-to-back kills that sparked a 3-0 Florida run and gave the Gators a 6-5 lead. Arkansas answered with a 3-0 run of its own, that was capped off by a kill from Jasmine Norton that allowed the Razorbacks to reclaim the lead at 8-6. Following two more ties, a Rivers kill and a Fleming ace jumpstarted a 4-0 Florida run that put the Gators back in front at 12-9 and forced Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza to burn an early timeout.

 

Out of the break, the UF utilized a 3-1 run to widen its edge to five, 15-10. From there, Arkansas scored two in a row, but a Rivers kill and a ball-handling error on the Razorbacks put Florida ahead 17-12 heading into another timeout. The Gators then used a 3-0 run that began with a block by Anderson and Murphy and ended with a Rivers ace that extended Florida’s advantage to eight, 20-12. The two squads traded points to conclude the set, as a Rivers put-down finished off the 25-17 first-set victory. The Gators limited the Razorbacks to just a .087 hitting efficiency in the opening frame and Rivers was a perfect 5-of-5 offensively.

 

Florida and Arkansas traded points to open the second set before the Razorbacks took a 7-5 lead after a kill by Charmaine Whitmore and a service ace by Brooke Fournier. Back-to-back kills by Wiggs and Anderson knotted the score at 7-all. A Rivers kill put Florida ahead 8-7 before a net violation on the Gators again tied the score. From there, a Norton kill and an attack error by Anderson allowed Arkansas to reclaim the lead at 10-8. That was the start of a 3-0 Razorback run that forced Wise to burn her first timeout of the match.

 

Out of the break, Florida employed a 4-1 run that tied the score at 12-all and caused an Arkansas timeout. Following five more ties, Arkansas’ Norton and Amanda Anderson charted back-to-back kills that gave the Razorbacks a 19-17 lead heading into a UF timeout. From there, the teams traded points Trailing 21-18, the Gators ran off four consecutive points, capped off by an Anderson kill to give Florida a 22-21 advantage. After four more ties, kills by Whitmore and Norton on back-to-back plays gave Arkansas the 27-25 second-set victory. The two squads were nearly even statistically in the second frame.

 

The Gators opened up to a 3-1 advantage to start the third set thanks to a kill by Jaeckel and a block solo by Rivers. After Arkansas cut within one, 3-2, the Gators ran off four consecutive points, capped off by a powerful block on the right side by Anderson and Murphy to extend UF’s lead to five, 7-2. Florida kept rolling to a 9-3 lead on a Jaeckel kill and went ahead 12-5 after a Murphy kill and a Norton attack error. That was the spark of a 5-0 Florida run that gave the Gators a 14-5 lead on back-to-back put-downs by Murphy and Bledsoe.

 

A kill by Rivers and a block by Bledsoe and Jaeckel ended Florida’s seven-point scoring spree with the Gators ahead 16-5. The two teams began trading points until a block solo by Jaeckel and a kill from Bledsoe pushed Florida in front 19-7. Ahead 21-11, the Gators scored four consecutive points to close out the 25-11 third-set win, which concluded with back-to-back Florida blocks. The Gators out-blocked the Razorbacks 6.0-0.0 in the third frame.

 

After the squads battled evenly to begin the fourth frame, the Gators took a 5-3 lead after a Wiggs kill and an attack error by Norton. Florida kept rolling to a 7-4 advantage before Arkansas whittled its deficit down to two, 8-6 A Jaeckel kill on the outside stopped the Gators’ scoring drought and Florida built its lead to 11-7. The Razorbacks got a kill from Norton and an ace by Raymariely Santos to cut within two, 11-9.

 

 Florida answered with a Jaeckel kill and a ball-handling error against Arkansas to widen its advantage to four, 13-9, heading into a timeout by the Razorbacks. The Gators kept rolling, extending their lead to six, 16-10, on a Wiggs kill and an attack error by Kelli Stipanovich. Out of the break, Arkansas ran off two points in a row before a Rivers kill stopped the Razorbacks’ scoring streak with Florida up 17-12. The two squads began trading points, but Arkansas would get no closer than three, 23-20. A Razorback attack error and a Jaeckel kill gave the Gators the 25-20 fourth-set victory.

 

Arkansas (13-16, 7-11 SEC) was led by Norton’s match-high 15 kills and seven digs, while Stipanovich added 11 kills.

 

Florida returns to action on Sunday when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on No. 16 LSU. Opening serve in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center is slated for 2 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on Cox Sports Television and on WRUF Sports Radio 850 with Tom Collett.

 

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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