Saturday December 4, 2010No. 1 Gators Face Florida State in NCAA Second Round
The No. 1 University of Florida volleyball team looks to advance to its 19th NCAA regional semifinal in the last 20 years, as it faces intra-state rival Florida State in the NCAA Second Round on Saturday. Opening serve in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET and the match will be carried live on WRUF Sports Radio 850 with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore. Live video also will be available through NCAA.com.
The Gators (28-1) are riding a 23-match winning streak entering Saturday’s contest and are coming off the most efficient NCAA Tournament match in program history. Florida hit .586 in a 3-0 (25-7, 25-10, 25-12) first-round victory against South Carolina State on Friday night. It marked the highest hitting efficiency in an NCAA Tournament match in program history and the second-highest overall single-match hitting percentage in program history.
Florida is looking for its 20th consecutive win against Florida State in the all-time series and the Gators lead the series 33-16, including a 3-0 win earlier this season in Tallahassee. Florida is 112-20 (.848) all-time vs. in-state schools, including a 64-2 (.970) tally under the direction of head coach Mary Wise.
“What you have is two junior and senior-dominated teams, very experienced, with both teams trying to advance,” Wise said. “And then there’s that piece about it being Florida vs. Florida State. They have four great hitters and their depth is really what’s most impressive. They can use lots of different lineups and still come at you in lots of different ways. They don’t make a whole lot of unforced errors and don’t serve or hit balls out – that’s what a veteran team will do. We’ll have to earn our points.”
Florida is 52-20 (.722) all-time in NCAA Tournament contests, including a 51-19 (.729) mark under Wise. The Gators are 18-1 all-time in NCAA Second Round contests and have advanced to 18 NCAA regional semifinals since 1991. Florida is 41-5 (.891) all-time in NCAA Tournament matches played at home.
The winner of Saturday’s match will face the victor of the Louisville-Purdue match slated for a 7 p.m. ET start tonight in West Lafayette, Ind. The NCAA regional will take place at Gregory Gymnasium in Austin, Texas, December 10-11.
Florida is led offensively by junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), who is the only player in the Southeastern Conference (all matches combined) to rank among the league’s top-10 in service aces per set, hitting percentage and kills per set. Murphy averages a squad-best 3.04 kills per set on .375 hitting with an SEC-leading 0.40 aces per set, 2.17 digs per set and 0.68 blocks per set. She had a team-high eight kills on .700 hitting with 17 assists and four digs in Florida’s 3-0 win against South Carolina State on Friday.
Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) and junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) follow with 2.57 and 2.46 kills per set, respectively. Rivers is second on the team in both digs per set (2.25) and aces per set (0.30), while Jaeckel adds 0.27 aces per set.
Three Gators average better than 0.95 blocks per set, led by SEC-leader Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.), who averages a squad-best 1.23 blocks per set. Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) averages 1.11 blocks per set and is in the top-20 nationally with a .403 hitting efficiency. Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) adds 0.99 blocks per set.
Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dishes out a squad-best 5.57 assists per set, while senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) averages 3.54 digs per set.
Florida State (22-10) advanced to the NCAA Second Round with a 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-13) win against Georgia Southern on Friday. A trio of Seminole outside hitters – Visnja Djurdjevic, Stephanie Neville and Jekaterina Stepanova combined for 42 kills to lead the charge. The win marked the first time in program history that Florida State has advanced to the NCAA Second Round in back-to-back seasons.
Djurdjevic totaled a match-high 16 kills, while Neville added 14 on .419 hitting and Stepanova had 12 kills on .345 hitting and nine digs against the Eagles. Senior libero Jenna Romanelli posted 18 digs in the match to give her 1,189 for her career and place her fourth in school history in career scoops.
The Seminoles, who are making their 13th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament are 5-12 all-time in NCAA play. On the season, Djurdjevic leads the way with 3.44 kills per set, while Stepanova and Neville follow with 2.58 and 2.42 kills per set, respectively. Romanelli is averaging a squad-best 3.91 digs per set, while senior middle blocker Lauren Young averages a squad-best 1.16 blocks per set.
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· Florida has now won 23 consecutive matches, which ties for the ninth-longest winning streak in program history. It marks the Gators’ most consecutive wins since totaling 27 in a row during the 2002 campaign.
· The Gators are now 28-1 on the 2010 campaign, marking Florida’s most wins in a single season since the 2007 squad recorded 29 victories.
· Florida is 52-20 (.722) all-time in NCAA Tournament contests, including a 51-19 (.729) mark under head coach Mary Wise. The Gators are 18-1 all-time in NCAA Second Round contests and have advanced to 18 NCAA regional semifinals since 1991. Florida is 41-5 (.891) all-time in NCAA Tournament matches played at home.
· The Gators have extended the nation’s longest streak of consecutive 25-win seasons to 20.
· UF’s 631 victories since the start of the 1991 campaign lead the nation during that span.
· Head coach Mary Wise, the eight-winningest active coach in Division I women’s volleyball, has a career record of 712-131 (.844) in 24 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including a mark of 631-68 (.903) in her 20th year at Florida.
· Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy has hit .500 or better in nine matches this season, including a season-high .700 clip against South Carolina State on Friday night.
· Murphy now has 985 career kills and needs 15 more to become just the 17th player in school history to record 1,000 career kills.
· Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe is currently hitting at a .403 clip on the 2010 season. The last Gator to hit better than .400 in a single season was Kelsey Bowers at .405 during the 2006 campaign.