Friday September 30, 2011No. 13 Gators Sweep Auburn on the Road for Eighth Sweep of the Season
The No. 13 Florida volleyball team used stellar offensive performances from its senior outside hitters, Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.), to complete a 3-set sweep of the host Auburn Tigers, 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-23). The Gators move to 10-3 on the season and 3-1 in SEC play, while the Tigers drop to 8-7 overall and 2-3 against conference opponents. Florida has now swept eight opponents in 2011, including both of the Gators' SEC road matches.
Ferrell hit .542 with 14 kills on 24 swings and only one error for the entire match. Jaeckel led all hitters with 15 kills, hitting at a .400 clip for her highest offensive percentage in 2011. Redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) led Florida with nine digs and two service aces, and senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) contributed a team-high 20 assists.
The teams battled throughout the first set, with Auburn leading by as many as three points, including late in the first set. As the Tigers closed in on taking set one, senior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) stepped behind the service line for six straight points to give Florida an edge at set point, 24-21. The serve of Auburn’s Camila Jersonsky put the Tigers right back in the thick of things, tying the set at 24-24. A kill by junior right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) put Florida back on top and a ball handling error by Auburn gave the Gators the first set, 26-24.
The second stanza was a different story, as Florida was able to gain momentum early and keep the lead for the entire set, leading by as many as six and keeping the lead at five throughout most of the set. A block by Anderson and Murphy solidified Florida’s dominance in the second set, giving the Gators a 19-14 edge. The block party continued later in the set, as Anderson and Wiggs teamed up against Auburn’s Sarah Bullock for a 22-16 Florida lead. An Auburn service error cemented the Gator lead in the match, handing Florida the second set, 25-20.
The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead out of intermission and held on to the advantage for much of the third set. Florida attempted to chip away at the Auburn lead but would only come within two points until a Gator timeout shifted the momentum towards the Florida bench. The Gators went on a 6-3 run to tie the set at 20-20 behind the serves of Anderson and sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.). Auburn regained the edge with two quick points but another Florida timeout once again changed the tide. Jaeckel slammed a kill down the line to begin the Florida rally and tied the set at 22-22 behind her serve. A kill by Vesela Zapryanova handed Auburn the 23-22 edge but aggressive serving by Unroe, including a service ace to set up match point, put Florida back in control. An Auburn overpass landed right within striking distance of Ferrell and she slammed the ball home to put away the set and the match for the Gators, 25-23.
The Gator defense held five of the Tigers’ starters to four kills or less and Jersonsky, Auburn’s leader in hitting percentage, only hit .143 with four kills on the evening. The Florida block combined for 10 total blocks, including 18 block assists, tying Florida’s season high for block assists in a 3-set match.
Florida heads to Georgia to face the Bulldogs for the 61st time in program history. The Florida-Georgia rivalry is the longest-standing rivalry in Gator volleyball, extending back to the inception of Florida’s program in 1984. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 2nd and Gator fans can listen to the live radio broadcast on Country 103.7 The Gator with Cory Stephens on the call.