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Sunday September 11, 2011No. 7 Gators Fall in Five to No. 3 Cardinal in Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic Final

Palo Alto, Calif.

The No. 7 Florida volleyball team rallied back from a 0-2 deficit at intermission to force a fifth and decisive set, but it wasnít enough as the Gators fell to the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal in the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic final, 2-3 (17-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-21, 13-15). The Gators move to 7-2 on the season while Stanford remains unbeaten at 6-0. This was the Orange and Blue's third-straight five-setter against a top-25 team this week.

 

Florida was led by Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic All-Tournament Team selections Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.). Jaeckel had her third double-double of the season with a team-high 20 kills and 16 digs. Murphy had her 24th career triple-double with 14 kills, 29 assists and 10 digs. Junior right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) continued her career streak with 18 kills on 31 swings and only one error for a .548 attacking efficiency. Redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) notched a career-high 22 digs, while sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) had 28 assists and six digs.

 

Florida out-hit (.232-.181), out-scored (81.0-74.0), out-blocked (11.0-9.) and registered more digs (73-66) than Stanford, but it wasnít enough, as the Gators had 47 errors in the match, including seven errors in the fifth set.

 

The Gators fell behind early in the set after starting the match off with a stuff block from junior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), 6-1, causing Florida to take an early timeout. Florida continued to struggle out of the timeout until Murphy was able to find a seam in Stanfordís block to stop the Cardinalís 7-0 run. The Gators couldnít find an answer on offense, with the Cardinal starting another run to pull ahead, 11-2. Florida continued to fall behind as Stanford distributed the ball evenly to both pins. Murphy and Jaeckel both stepped up for Florida, sparking a 5-1 run and swinging the momentum enough to force a Stanford timeout. Jaeckel took a big swing down the pipe to pull Florida within four at 14-10. Back-to-back Gator hitting errors forced Florida to take their second timeout of the set, the Cardinalís lead extending to 17-10. Florida attempted a run at the end, but Stanford scored five straight and the Gator errors proved to be the deciding factor in the set, 25-17.

 

The Cardinal began the second set similarly to the first, using three straight kills from their pin hitters to keep momentum on their side while errors continued to plague the Gators. Stanford jumped out to a quick 6-1 lead, forcing a Florida timeout. Brown set a quick to Smith to stop the Stanford momentum but the Cardinal used off-speed kills and aggressive serving to take a 9-3 lead. Wiggs had two off-speed kills for Florida to close the gap, while senior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.)'s float serve forced back-to-back hitting errors, allowing Florida to close the gap at 10-7. Wiggs continued to swing big for the Gators, pulling them back into the set after back-to-back Florida errors, 13-8. Williams continued to slow down the Gatorsí momentum, cutting inside the Florida block to extend the Stanford lead back to 14-9. Back-to-back hitting errors by the Gators forced another Florida timeout, 16-9. Murphy stepped behind the service line and scored three straight for Florida, including setting up Stanford to hit into a stuff block courtesy of Anderson and freshman outside hitter Noami Santos Lamb (Carolina, Puerto Rico). Santos-Lamb utilized her powerful jump serve to pull the Gators within three and force a Stanford timeout, 19-16. Wiggs hit an off-speed kill to pull Florida within two, 19-17. Stanford began to pull away behind the serve of Mary Ellen Luck, including back-to-back service aces, 23-17. Jaeckel hit a cross-court kill and Sam Wopat had a hitting error to pull Florida within three, 23-20. Stanford went back to Wopat to force set point, 24-20. A Wiggs hitting error and Stanford took a 2-0 lead into intermission, winning the second set by a score of 25-20.

 

Stanford continued the trend of the match by jumping out to a 4-1 lead behind the serve of Jessica Walker. Jaeckel had the first two kills for the Gators, the first coming from the opposite side and the second with another great swing down the pipe, pulling the Gators within one, 4-3. Jaeckel took another swing from back row, giving the Gators their first true lead of the match at 6-5. Behind the serve of freshman defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.), Florida continued to swing away on the pins, forcing a Stanford timeout at 10-6. An overpass kill for Stanford stopped the Gatorsí run but back-to-back Cardinal errors gave Florida an 11-7 lead. Stanford then went on a 3-0 lead but a Wiggs kill down the line distance the Gator lead at 12-10. Brown serve an ace that skipped over the tape to extend the Florida advantage, 13-10, and Jaeckel used an off-speed kill to keep the lead at three. Stanford looked to be making a run but smart swings by Jaeckel and Ferrell and a stuff block from Ferrell and sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) forced a Cardinal timeout at 17-13. Jaeckel had back-to-back kills from the back row out of the timeout, extending the Gator lead to 19-15. Florida won the race to 20, but a service error by Brown allowed Stanford within three at 20-17. Murphy had the next two kills for the Gators, pushing to 22-18. A Stanford hitting error gave Florida its largest lead of the match at 23-18. The Gators were able to close out the third set, 25-20, after taking a long rally with a great quick out of the middle by Mann. The Gators hit higher in the third set than in the first two sets combined, with Florida swinging at a .394 clip in the third stanza.

The teams traded points in the beginning of the fourth set, with Stanford taking an early 5-2 lead. The Gatorsí pin hitters began swinging big to put Florida back in the set, as Jaeckel had a tool off the block to give the Orange and Blue the lead, 8-7. Wiggs had her fourth kill of the set off the arms of Stanfordís libero Hannah Benjamin. Murphy and Smith teamed up for a Williamsí stuff block to tie the game at 11-11. Ferrell had a block of her own, coupled with a Stanford hitting error, and the Cardinal took a timeout at 13-11. Jaeckel had a service error out of the timeout, but made up for it with a big swing out of the back row, extending the Gatorsí lead to 14-12. Big swings by Jaeckel and Wiggs pushed the Florida lead to 17-13, the Gatorsí largest of the set. The Orange and Blue took a timeout after Stanford forced back-to-back Gator errors to close the gap to 18-16. Florida kept swinging big on the pins and a Smith overpass kill in the middle forced Stanfordís second timeout of the set, 21-17. Jaeckel had another big swing to extend the Florida lead to 22-17. Stanford began to make a run but a big Murphy swing stopped their momentum and set up set point, 24-20. Florida forced the fifth and decisive set off another Murphy kill, 25-21.

 

In the fifth and final set, Florida fell behind 3-0 after big swings from Williams. The Gators took a timeout in attempt to shift the momentum and pulled within one, 3-4. A Murphy service error and a Williams kill extended the lead to 7-3. A stuff block from Mann and Wiggs, coupled with a swing down the line from Wiggs and the Gators pulled back within one at 7-6. A great joust at the net won by Mann tied the set at 7-7 and forced a Stanford timeout. A net violation gave Stanford the advantage on the changeover, 8-7. A crucial call came after a ball was called down and was replayed. Wiggs had a kill down the line to give the advantage back to the Gators but a kill down the pipe from Williams tied the set at 9-9. Florida continued to trade points with Stanford before a final Anderson and Ferrell teamed up for a stuff block to give Florida the edge at 12-11. A kill from Ferrell out of the middle gave Florida a 13-12 lead but back-to-back Gator hitting errors gave Stanford match point at 14-13. A Mann hitting error gave Stanford the set and the match, 15-13.

 

Florida begins SEC play on Friday, September 16th, as they hit the road to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs at 8 p.m. Gator fans can listen live on Sportsradio 850 with Cory Stephens on the call.

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