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Wednesday October 19, 2011Career Highs in Columbia: Balanced Attack Leads No. 13 Gators to Seventh Straight Sweep

Columbia, S.C.

The No. 13 Florida volleyball team earned its seventh straight SEC sweep with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-23) victory over South Carolina on Wednesday evening. The Gators move to 16-3 on the season and 9-1 halfway through conference play. The Gamecocks drop to 10-10 overall and 1-9 in the SEC. The match was the latter half of ESPNU’s Wednesday Night Women’s Volleyball doubleheader.


The Gators have won 21 straight sets, the most since the 2009 season, when Florida swept conference opponents from October 1st to October 22nd.


Florida had its most balanced offensive output of the SEC slate, led by Betsy Smith’s (Atlanta, Ga.) career performance, as the junior middle blocker had a career-high 10 kills on 11 swings, registering an astronomical .909 hitting percentage, also a career high.


Senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) had a career night as well, posting her 14th straight double-digit kill performance of the season. Her previous record was 10 straight, going from October 30th, 2009 to September 19th, 2010. Jaeckel served up seven aces, a career high, tying the record for third all-time at Florida for aces.


Her serving effort is the most since teammate Kelly Murphy’s (Wilmington, Ill.) eight aces against Arkansas a year ago (October 3rd, 2010) and the Colorado native shares the third place spot with Aury Cruz, who served up seven aces twice in her career (Kentucky - September 28th, 2001; Illinois State – November 29th, 2002). Cruz also holds the Florida record for most aces in a match with nine against South Carolina on September 26th, 2003.


Florida’s pin hitters had a productive evening as a whole, with senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) registering eight kills on .462 hitting. Murphy posted eight kills, 16 assists and nine digs for another near-triple-double effort. Junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) hit seven kills against the Gamecocks. Defensively, the Gators were paced by a match-high 11 digs by freshman defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.), tying her career high and marking the first time in her Gator career to lead the team in digs.


Florida jumped out to an early 9-3 lead behind the serve of Jaeckel and sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.), forcing a Gamecock timeout. The Gators were paced by Jaeckel and Smith, who each contributed four kills in the first set. The Orange and Blue were firing on all cylinders in the opening stanza, putting up back-to-back stuff blocks by Jaeckel and Smith to force a second South Carolina timeout. The Gators ended the set on a kill by senior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Florida took the opening set, 25-13. The Gators hit .714 in the first set without a single error.


The second set was tight to start, as the teams traded points until a Jaeckel kill sparked an 11-4 run behind the serves of Jaeckel, Murphy and redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.). Florida continued its runs, leading by as many as 10 courtesy of a Jaeckel service ace. South Carolina began to fight its way back behind their star outside hitter Juliette Thevenin. Sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) got involved in the action, teaming up with Wiggs for a block to force a South Carolina timeout and adding a kill out of the timeout.  A Thevenin serving error put Florida ahead, 2-0, in the match with a 25-18 second set victory.


The third set featured some of the best rallies of the night, as neither team pulled away by more than four and the set featured six ties and four lead changes. The teams were tied at 3-3 but a Smith kill set up Jaeckel behind the service line, where the Colorado native proceeded to serve three straight aces. The teams continued to trade serves before South Carolina crept up to take the lead. Gamecocks’ setter Taylor Bruns served three straight points to force a Gator timeout at 20-18. Back-to-back South Carolina errors forced a Gamecocks timeout as the Gators were able to tie the set at 20-20. The teams continued to side out before Jaeckel stepped behind the service line. Jaeckel served her record-breaking seventh ace to end the match, 25-23.


Florida hit .388 in the match while holding South Carolina to just .167. The Gators have outhit every opponent they have faced this season. The Orange and Blue also outblocked (5.0-1.0) and outdug (47-39) the Gamecocks.


The Gators now shift their focus to the second half of SEC play as Florida hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 23rd. The match between the Gators and the Bulldogs has been designated as Serving Up A Cure, Florida’s breast cancer awareness match. The first 1,000 fans will receive a commemorative pink t-shirt and fans are encouraged to wear pink to the match.

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