Sunday October 2, 2011No. 13 Gators Finish SEC Road Weekend with Sweep of Georgia
In Florida’s best offensive performance of the 2011 season, the No. 13 Gator volleyball team downed SEC East rival Georgia in a 3-0 sweep, 26-24, 25-15, 25-23, in front of 1,797 fans at Ramsey Student Center on Sunday afternoon. With the win, Florida moves to 11-3 on the season and 4-1 in conference play as Georgia falls to 6-10 in 2011 and 2-4 in SEC competition.
The Gators hit a season-high .469 against the Bulldogs, the most in a 3-set match since Florida’s sweep of South Carolina State in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, when the Gators hit at a .586 clip. Florida was led by seniors Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), who registered 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Jaeckel hit a season-high .520 on the afternoon, adding another season-high with six blocks, contributing as many blocks individually as the Bulldogs did as a team. Murphy narrowly missed a triple-double with 13 kills, 20 assists and match-high nine digs, hitting at a .480 clip.
Junior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) led both teams in hitting percentage with an errorless .700, contributing seven kills on 10 swings. Florida only committed seven hitting errors for the entire match, including an astonishing second set which saw the Gators hit .720 with 18 kills on 25 attacks without committing a single hitting error. Georgia hit .305 on the afternoon, the highest opponent hitting percentage allowed since Florida’s Sweet 16 match against Purdue in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Georgia led in the early going, taking as much as a 3-point lead by jumping ahead at 4-1 to open the match. The teams continued to trade points before senior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) stepped behind the service line and sparked a 6-1 Florida run to jump ahead, 17-13. A Jaeckel service ace put the Gators comfortably ahead at 19-14. The Bulldogs began to chip away at the Gator lead, forcing three straight Florida errors. Georgia’s Briana Bahr registered back-to-back kills to tie the set at 24-24 but a stuff block by Jaeckel and Smith gave the Gators set point and a kill from Murphy put Florida on top in the first set, 26-24.
The second set was all Florida, as the Gators gave an unbelievable offensive performance, hitting .720 with 18 kills on 25 swings and no errors in what is believed to be the highest offensive output in a set in the history of the program. Florida earned an 80% sideout percentage, as no Gator hitter operated below .500 in the second stanza. While the second set was mostly an offensive affair, the Gators’ aggressive serving aided their efforts, with four players responsible for serving at least four points each in the set. Florida led the entire set and gained a 10-point advantage when closing out the set on a kill from junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) at 25-15.
The third set mimicked the second, as the Gators held the lead for the entire set, using prime third set performances from Florida’s pin hitters. At least one of the Gators’ outside and right-side hitters were involved on Florida’s first eight points and 17 of Florida’s 25 points in the set. Jaeckel turned on the afterburners out of intermission, with eight of her 14 kills coming in the third stanza. The Gators continued to push their way through the third stanza, leading by as many as three points. Georgia chipped away at Florida’s lead, pulling within one at 22-21 and even pushing the Gators on match point to get back within one at 24-23, but a quick set from sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) to Smith put the match away for Florida, 25-23.
Florida had three players in double figure points (Jaeckel: 18.0; Murphy 13.0; Smith: 10.0) and Brown led the way for the Gators with 24 assists.
Florida returns home to the Stephen C.O’Connell Center to take on Arkansas and LSU. The Gators face the Razorbacks at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, the broadcast of which Gator fans can listen to on Sportsradio 850 with Tom Collett and Missy Whittemore. Then Florida takes on the LSU Tigers at 1:30 p.m. on Sun Sports with Larry Vettel and Whittemore. Florida fans can also tune in to Country 103.7 The Gator to listen to the radio broadcast.