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Thursday December 1, 2011No. 17 Gators Open NCAA Championship Play in Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls, Iowa

The No. 17 Florida volleyball team begins its road to San Antonio and the 2011 NCAA Championship in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where the Gators take on the Missouri Tigers in NCAA First Round action on Friday, December 2nd at 6 p.m. ET. The match will be streamed live on UNIPanthers.com and Gator fans can listen to longtime play-by-play analyst Tom Collett and former Gator All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore call the action on Sportsradio 850 and GatorZone.com.

 

Florida enters the 2011 NCAA Championship with a 24-5 overall record, led by seniors and First Team All-SEC selections Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) and Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.). Jaeckel has 340 kills on the year, averaging 3.37 kills/set, and leads the SEC in aces/set with a .43 average. Murphy has a team-leading 603 assists on the season, averaging 5.91/set, and is second on the Gators in kills/set (2.37) and aces/set (.35). The Gators are the most efficient hitting team in the nation, operating at a .312 clip.

 

This will be the first-ever meeting between the future SEC opponents and only the second time in program history that the Gators will travel for the first and second rounds. Florida and Missouri share three common opponents in Auburn, Iowa State and Texas. The Gators are 3-1 against common opponents and the Tigers are 1-4 on the season against the three teams.

 

The winner of the matchup between Florida and Missouri will face the winner of host and Missouri Valley Champion UNI Panthers and the MAAC Champion Niagara Purple Eagles. The second round match between the two remaining teams will take place on Saturday, December 3rd at 8:30 p.m. ET.

 

Missouri is 21-12 on the season and 7-9 in the Big 12. The Tigers were selected for its second consecutive NCAA Championship and 10th in the last 12 seasons. With nine underclassmen, the Tigers will be the youngest team in the NCAA Championship this season, as only four players enter the NCAA Championship with postseason experience. Mizzou will be matched up against Florida of the Southeastern Conference and should the Tigers advance, they will play either Northern Iowa or Niagara in the second round.

 

The Gators are 53-21 (.716) all-time in the NCAA Championship, including a 52-20 (.725) mark under Wise’s direction. Florida has advanced to NCAA regional action in 19 of Wise’s previous 20 seasons and has reached the national semifinal on seven occasions during that span.

 

In the 30-year history of the championship, 10 schools have been crowned champion, nine of which are among this year’s bracket, including four-time defending NCAA Champion Penn State.

 

Additional past winners making the field are Stanford (1992, 94, 96, 97, 2001, 04), Hawaii (1982, 83, 87), Long Beach State (1989, 93, 98), UCLA (1984, 90, 91), Nebraska (1995, 2000, and 06), Southern California (1981, 2002, 03), Penn State (1999, 2007, 08, 09), Texas (1988) and Washington (2005).

 

Three SEC teams made the 2011 field, including No. 14 seed Tennessee and Kentucky. Five additional teams from Florida’s 2011 schedule made the NCAA Tournament field, including the No. 1 overall seed Texas Longhorns, who the Gators defeated 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 25-13, 21-25, 15-12) in the 2011 Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic earlier this season.

 

For all of the latest information on Florida volleyball, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/Volleyball or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow Florida volleyball on Twitter at @GatorZoneVB or www.twitter.com/GatorZoneVB and Coach Mary Wise on Twitter at @GatorMary or www.twitter.com/GatorMary. You can also find the Gators on Facebook.

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