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Sunday November 21, 2010Rivers, No. 1 Gators Earn Hard-Fought Win vs. LSU

Gainesville, Fla.

Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) registered a career-high 21 kills and, as she has all season long, willed her No. 1 Florida team to a victory, directing the Gators to a 3-1 (25-19, 33-31, 25-27, 25-13) victory against No. 16 LSU on Sunday afternoon in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

 

The Gators (26-1, 19-0 Southeastern Conference), who improve to 10-1 this season against opponents ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top-25 poll at the time of the match, out-blocked LSU 11.0-4.0, marking the 14th time this season that Florida has accumulated double-figure blocks and the fifth time in the last six matches.

 

The Gators hit .298 for the match, while holding LSU to a .157 hitting efficiency. As a team, Florida recorded a season-high 71 digs, marking the first time that the Gators have eclipsed the 70-dig mark as a team since charting 83 scoops at Kentucky on Nov. 22, 2009. UF’s back-row performance was especially impressive considering the Tigers entered the match as the league’s digs leader with 16.01 digs per set as a team.

 

“This was great volleyball today as both teams battled, especially in sets two and three,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “It was such a high level of play. I thought the key to the match was that we were toe-to-toe with LSU, which leads the league in digs, and really made a statement with our blocking.”

 

Rivers 21 kills came on .410 hitting, eclipsing her previous personal best of 18 kills recorded against the College of Charleston on Nov. 29, 2007. She added seven digs and four blocks for a career-high 23.0 total points.

 

“Callie earned every one of those kills,” Wise said. “She had great vision tonight and took such smart swings. To have 21 kills against such a good team as LSU is a great job of really getting it done.”

 

Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) totaled 15 kills on .275 hitting with eight digs, while junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) and senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) each added 10 kills. Anderson registered a match-high six blocks, while Bledsoe added five. Four Gators charted four or more blocks each in the match.

 

Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) recorded her 14th consecutive double-double with a season-high 31 assists to complement 13 digs and eight kills. Murphy has 22 double-dips on the season. Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) totaled four blocks in the match.

 

Senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) posted a career-high 22 digs, while freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) charted her second career double-double with 22 assists and a career-high 12 digs.

 

Florida scored the first three points of the first set and raced to a 7-1 lead, capped off by an Anderson kill on a quick middle set that forced LSU to burn an early timeout. Following an attack error by the Tigers, a lift call against the Gators and a Rivers attack error brought LSU within five, 8-3. Rivers responded with a kill and Anderson and Jaeckel followed with a block to put Florida in front 10-3. The Gators kept rolling to a 12-4 advantage following back-to-back kills by Murphy on the right side.

 

From there, the Tigers scored five of the next six points to cut within four, 13-9. The two teams then traded points before back-to-back kills by Bledsoe and Murphy put the Gators ahead 21-13. Down 22-14, LSU ran off three in a row to cut within five, 22-17, heading into a Florida timeout. With the Gators ahead 22-18, Wiggs registered a kill and then Bledsoe and Rivers teamed for a block to bring Florida to set point at 24-18. A soft-touch kill by Rivers gave the Gators the 25-19 first-set victory. UF limited the Tigers to just a .030 hitting efficiency in the opening frame.

 

The two teams battled evenly to open the second set before LSU used back-to-back kills by Michele Williams and Tania Schatow, to spark a 4-0 run that put the Tigers ahead 6-2 and forced Wise to burn an early timeout. A kill by Anderson out of the break and a Schatow attack error brought the Gators within two, 6-4. From there, the squads began exchanging points before LSU used back-to-back kills to take a 10-6 lead. Jaeckel responded with two consecutive kills to whittle the Gators’ deficit down to two, 10-8. Trailing 11-8, Florida ran off three points in a row, highlighted by a powerful block from Anderson and Wiggs, to knot the score at 11-all. The Tigers built their lead back to two points and the two teams continued to fight closely. A put-down by Anderson and a kill off an overpass by Bledsoe tied the score at 15-15 and forced an LSU timeout.

 

After four more ties, Anderson and Wiggs teamed for a block and Rivers charted a kill on back-to-back plays to give the Gators a 22-20 edge. Out of the break, Williams got a kill and followed with an ace for the Tigers to knot the score at 22-all. A Williams service error and a Rivers kill brought Florida to set point at 24-22, but Schatow and Desiree Elliott responded with back-to-back kills for LSU to tie the score at 24. Seven more ties ensured before a kill by Anderson off the block and a Murphy kill on second contact gave the Gators a 33-31 second set victory. Elliott had 10 kills in the second frame alone for the Tigers.

 

LSU raced to a 3-1 advantage to commence the third set and kept rolling to a 5-2 lead. With the Tigers up 6-4, Angela Bensend registered back-to-back kills to extend their edge to four, 8-4. An Anderson kill and a ball-handing error charged to LSU brought the Gators back within two, 8-6. With Florida trailing 10-7, three consecutive attack errors by the Tigers knotted the score at 10-all.

 

Trailing 11-10, the Gators benefitted from a Bledsoe kill and two consecutive attack errors by LSU’s Madie Jones to take a 13-11 lead heading into a Tiger timeout. LSU rallied the tie the score at 14-all. Following five more ties, back-to-back kills by the Tigers put them ahead 21-19 heading into a Florida timeout. The two teams began trading points before LSU went up 23-21. Rivers answered with back-to-back kills to tie the score at 23-23 heading into an LSU break. After two more ties, the Tigers clinched the third set 27-25.  The squads were nearly even statistically over the third frame.

 

The two teams battled closely to start the fourth set before a Bledsoe kill and back-to-back Jaeckel put-downs gave the Gators a 6-3 advantage. With Florida up 9-4, Rivers blocked a ball and followed with a pair of kills to extend its edge to eight, 12-4. The Gators kept rolling to a 17-7 advantage following a block by Anderson and Rivers. Florida had no trouble closing out the 25-13 fourth-set victory.

 

LSU (24-4, 15-4 SEC) was led by Elliott’s team-high 17 kills, while Bensend and Williams each added 12 put-downs apiece.  

 

Florida returns to action on Friday when it travels to Columbia, S.C., to take on South Carolina in the regular-season finale. Opening serve is slated for 7 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on WRUF Sports Radio 850.

 

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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