Friday November 4, 2011There's No Place Like Home: No. 17 Gator Volleyball Sweeps Crimson Tide to Open Homecoming
Junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) helped lead the No. 17 Gator volleyball team past the Alabama Crimson Tide, 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 25-21), on Friday afternoon to kick off Homecoming festivities on the campus of the University of Florida. The Gators move to 18-5 on the season and 11-3 in conference play. The Crimson Tide fall to 11-15 on the year and 4-11 in SEC action. Florida now has 16 sweeps on the year, tying last year’s total.
Wiggs led all hitters with 10 kills on 16 swings for a .500 hitting clip on the afternoon and a total of 11.5 points, all match highs. The Seattle native added three blocks in a match that saw the Gators well out-block their season average (3.3 blocks/set-2.3 blocks/set). On the whole, Florida hit .333 to Alabama’s .091, thanks to the superb setting of sophomore Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) and senior Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.), who combined for 38 assists.
“Tangerine’s first two swings in set one, she didn’t kill, and then she reeled off 10 in a row,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “She had a pretty good zone, but she also knows the numbers we’re looking at are the three blocks.”
Sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) hit .417 in the match with just one error, posting six kills to go along with a match-high four blocks. Seniors Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Murphy added six kills apiece, while fellow senior Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) registered five kills and nine digs against the Crimson Tide. Junior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) had five kills and three blocks, and redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) notched a match-high 14 digs.
Alabama started a 4-0 run to take a 6-3 advantage over the Orange and Blue in the early stages of the first set. Ferrell hit around the Crimson Tide block to reduce the Alabama lead to one, and a Murphy ace tied the set at 9-9. A Mann blast into the Alabama defense sparked a 3-0 run for the Gators, changing the momentum of the set and forcing Alabama into a timeout at 16-13. The Gators continued to swing and defend, shutting Alabama out of the frame, and a Murphy-Smith block extended the Orange and Blue lead to 20-14. A Murphy ace put the Gators one point from the set win, and a Jaeckel kill ended the first set, 25-16.
Alabama and Florida kept the second stanza close, tying five times within the first 10 points. Smith attacked the center of the Tide defense, driving the Gators on a 3-0 run and a 10-7 advantage. Mann ripped the seam of a Tide block and once again tilted the momentum of the set in the Orange and Blue’s favor by sparking a 6-0 run to go ahead, 19-10. The surprise of set two was the play of freshman outside hitter Noami Santos-Lamb (Carolina, Puerto Rico), who notched four straight kills to put Florida ahead, 23-12. A Murphy service ace put the Gators a point from the set win and an Alabama attacking error ended the set, 25-12, giving Florida the 2-0 advantage going into intermission. While Santos-Lamb’s power put the crowd on their feet, it was no surprise to the Gator bench.
“Noami is such a stud. I’m just happy that people got to see it because she does that in practice every day. She works so hard,” Wiggs said. “It was really exciting for us to see a lot of the hard work and the things she does in practice translate into a game-like situation”
The Crimson Tide took an initial 2-0 lead to start the third set, but a Smith solo stuff ignited a 7-0 run for the Orange and Blue, pulling Florida ahead of Alabama, 7-2. An Alabama attacking error extended the Gator lead to 12-4 and forced an Alabama timeout. The Crimson Tide managed to roll on a 3-0 run to reduce the Florida lead to 15-10. Wiggs ended the Alabama scoring streak with a bullet through the Tide defense, sparking a 4-0 Orange and Blue run to go ahead 19-10. Alabama fought back and forced Florida into a timeout after a 3-0 run, 21-16. The Tide continued to battle and lessened the Florida lead to three, 22-19. The Gators sided out and a Ferrell block gave Florida match point at 24-19. Ferrell’s swing found the seam of the Alabama block, giving the Gators the set and match victory, 25-21.
The Gators now look towards Ole Miss, hosting the Rebels on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Sunday’s match will be broadcast live on CSS with Bernie Guenther and former Gator All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore on the call. Gator fans can also tune in to Country 103.7 The Gator with Tom Collett and Cory Stephens calling the action. Ole Miss is currently on a three-match win streak after returning all of their key cogs from injury.
“Now the challenge is playing Ole Miss, who we all thought would be making a run for the SEC West title with everything they have come back with,” Wise said. “They just had some injuries and started off slow, but they’ve got it turned around now. I think the team we play Sunday will be the team everybody in the league expected to win the West, in terms of being very athletic and having high volleyball IQ.”
Match Stat Leaders
- Kills: Tangerine Wiggs (10)
- Attacks: Tangerine Wiggs (16)
- Hitting Percentage: Tangerine Wiggs (.500)
- Assists: Kelly Murphy (21)
- Digs: Taylor Unroe (14)
- Block Solo: Stephanie Ferrell (2)
- Block Assists: Tangerine Wiggs/Chloe Mann (3)
- Total Blocks: Chloe Mann (4)
- Tonight’s sweep win marked the Gators’ 16th 3-set victory of 2011, tying their sweep total from 2010
- Of the Gators’ 18 wins, 16 have been in three sets, one in four (Kentucky) and one in five (No. 10 Texas).
- Alternatively, Florida has not been swept all season, and all but one loss has come in five sets.
- The Gators’ all-time record for sweeps in a season is 31, a feat achieved in 2003, when Florida reached the NCAA title game.
- Noami Santos-Lamb registered four kills in as many swings in the first set, doubling her previous personal best.
- Kelly Murphy tied her season best in aces, notching three perfect serves for the fifth time this season.
- Betsy Smith tied her career high, earning her third-ever multi-dig match with two.
Gators in the Record Books
- Kelly Murphy’s 10.5 points in this evening’s match breaks her into the top 10 all-time at UF, tying Aurymar Rodriguez ’97 with 1,448.0 career points.
- Additionally, Murphy’s three aces push her into a tie with Elyse Cusack ’09 for 11th all-time with 120 career aces.
- Kristy Jaeckel’s service ace moves her into a tie with Steffi Legall (1990-91) for 19th all-time with 101 career aces
- The first set of tonight’s match was the 400th of Kristy Jaeckel’s career. She is the 23rd Gator in history to reach this milestone, joining teammate Kelly Murphy who reached the plateau last weekend at Tennessee.
- Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy, who are neck-and-neck in career kills, both registered their 1,200th career kills this evening. There are just 10 other Gators who have surpassed this mark.
- The Gators are now 806-174 (.822) all-time
- Mary Wise is 731-137 (.898) in her career and 650-74 (.842) at Florida
- The Orange and Blue are 343-37 (.903) in SEC play, including 317-15 (.955) under Coach Wise
- The Gators are now 36-0 all-time against the Crimson Tide and 34-0 under Coach Wise
- UF is 394-56 (.876) at home, 335-21 (.941) with Coach Wise on the sideline
- Florida is 642-72 (.899) while ranked and 700-90 (.886) vs. unranked opponents