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Sunday October 30, 2011No. 24 Kentucky Tops No. 13 Gator Volleyball in Five

Lexington, Ky.

Senior right-side setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) registered her 27th career triple-double, senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) contributed her seventh double-double of the season and five Gator hitters were in double digit kills but the No. 13 Florida volleyball team was unable to recover after losing the opening set against No. 24 Kentucky and fell 2-3 (23-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-17, 15-9) on Sunday afternoon. The Gators fall to 17-5 on the season and 10-3 in SEC play, dropping consecutive conference matches for the first time since 2009 (11/11/09 vs. No. 19 LSU, 11/13/09 at Tennessee).

 

Sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) had a career-high 10 kills, hitting .455 with no errors to go along with a career-high seven blocks. Murphy led all Gator hitters with 15 kills, adding 24 assists and 13 digs to complete the triple-dip. Jaeckel registered 13 kills and 11 digs on the afternoon, while fellow senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) posted 11 kills against the Wildcats. Junior right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) had 10 kills, five blocks and four digs against Kentucky, while redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) led the Gator back row with 19 digs.

 

Florida led by as many as five in the first set, going on a 5-0 run behind the serve of Murphy. Mann was a part of three straight Gator blocks to put the Orange and Blue ahead, 10-5. The Wildcats went on a 6-1 run to knot the set at 11-11 but a Mann-Wiggs block gave Florida the 12-11 advantage. The teams traded serve and the lead multiple times throughout the opening stanza, a set that saw 13 ties and six lead changes. Kentucky used two serving runs late in the first set to keep the lead, as Pavan registered three kills in the last four points the Wildcats scored. Florida scored two straight points to pull within two, 24-23, but a Pavan kill secured the set for Kentucky, 25-23.

 

Florida’s hitters fell into a comfortable rhythm in the second set, with four Gators registering a .500 hitting clip or better in the second stanza. Kentucky got off to a quick start but a kill by Jaeckel settled Florida down. Kentucky looked to be going on a long run, taking a 10-6 lead behind back-to-back kills from Frazier. Wiggs answered with back-to-back kills of her own and Florida fought back, tying the set at 15-15 on a kill from Mann. Using the middle and opposite hitters worked to Florida’s advantage, as seven of the Gators’ last nine kills in the set were from the middle or right side. Jaeckel took the final two swings for the Gators as Florida took the second set, 25-19.

 

Kentucky opened the third set on a 4-0 run and forced a Florida timeout after a Gator attack error at 6-1. UF began to slowly chip away at the UK lead using solid serve receive and spreading the ball around offensively, as the Gators battled back to tie the set at 19-19 after a Murphy kill. The teams continued to sideout and the Gators took timeout after Kentucky’s Frazier gave the Wildcats a slight advantage at 22-21. Kentucky closed the 25-21 set on a 5-1 run to take a 2-1 advantage in the match, with Frazier hitting errorless with five kills in the set and UK’s libero Stephanie Klefot contributing six digs.

 

Florida rebounded quickly to open the fourth set, leading 4-1 early in the stanza. Mann and Wiggs teamed up for a block to go up 7-4. The Gators kept a comfortable lead throughout the fourth set, forcing a Wildcat timeout after a Billings hitting error at 11-6. Kentucky continued to set Billings and she notched three straight kills to pull the Wildcats within two, 11-9. Billings then served up an ace to cut the Gator lead to one, 12-11. Florida used Murphy kills to end both runs and Kentucky took its second timeout of the set Mann-Wiggs stuff block ended one of the longest rallies of the match at 16-12. The teams traded points until Brown served up an ace at 21-15. Kentucky had back-to-back errors but Klefot served up an ace to pull within six but Florida ended the set on a 3-0 run to force a fifth and decisive set, 25-17.

 

Florida and Kentucky played sideout volleyball throughout the fifth set. Murphy put Florida ahead at 3-2 with a kill around the Wildcat block. Ferrell had back-to-back service errors to put Kentucky ahead, 5-3. Mann hit a quick out of the middle and Murphy served up an ace to knot the set at 5-5. Mann put down another kill to even the score at 5-5. The changeover changed the tide of the set, as Kentucky scored two straight to go ahead at 9-7. Jaeckel continued to swing away, posting two kills and pulling Florida within one at 10-9, but a Jaeckel service error propelled Kentucky on a 5-0 run behind the serve of Lauren O’Conner to take the set and the match, 15-9.

 

The Gators, after playing seven of the last 10 matches on the road, will return home to the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to face Alabama and Ole Miss on Homecoming weekend. Florida will host the Crimson Tide at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, before taking on the Rebels on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Florida’s match against Ole Miss will be broadcast live on CSS.

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