Gator Sportshop
Gator Ticket Office

Volleyball Headline

Friday December 9, 2011Florida Volleyball Sweeps Michigan to Reach First Elite Eight Since 2005

Gainesville, Fla.

Behind senior right-side hitter/setter Kelly Murphy’s (Wilmington, Ill.) triple-double, the No. 17 and unseeded Florida volleyball team swept its way into the Elite Eight, defeating Michigan in three sets (25-21, 25-13, 27-25) to reach the NCAA regional final for the first time since 2005 and the 12th time in Florida history.

 

“I was told .439 is the highest any Florida team has hit at this round of the NCAA Tournament,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We’ve said we thought our team was playing its very best – well, no Gator team has had an offense at that level.”

 

Murphy registered a match-high 17 kills on 29 swings for a .517 hitting clip, adding 21 assists and 10 digs for her 29th career triple-double and 75th career double-double. Senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) tallied 14 kills, eight digs and four blocks for 18.0 points against the Wolverines.

 

“Both Kristy (Jaeckel) and Kelly (Murphy) continue to be in the zone,” Wise said. “It’s like the game is moving in slow motion for them in terms of their hitting choices, and then add a triple-double for Kelly. I thought we handled their tough serves very well. If that match had gone any longer, Alex Hunt might have had 50 kills. That is one special player. I think we were very fortunate to win in three and that worked just fine for us.”

 

The Gator middles had stellar performances for Florida, as Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) and Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) combined for an errorless 15 kills on 25 attacks (.600). Redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) was solid in back row, notching 12 digs and tallying a career-high six assists. A bright spot for the Gators was the play of sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.), who dished out a team-high 23 assists on the evening.

 

The Gators and Wolverines went back-and-forth for the first several points of the first frame until Murphy fired into the Michigan defense, giving Florida its first two-point lead, 4-2. A Michigan service ace tied the set at 13-13, but Mann broke the seam of the block to keep the Gators in the lead, 14-13. After a Florida 3-0 run, the Wolverines called a timeout, but Unroe kept the drive alive with a service ace extending the Gator lead to 18-14.  Jaeckel smashed a set from Brown into Wolverine territory that sparked a 3-0 run, giving Florida a 22-16 advantage. A Wolverine attack ignited a 3-0 drive that forced the Orange and Blue into a timeout at 23-20. Ferrell hit around a block to put the Gators one point from the set win, 24-20, and a Michigan attacking error gave Florida the frame, 25-21.

 

Michigan took a strong 3-0 lead to start the second stanza, but Jaeckel fired a bullet into the Wolverine defense that drove the Gators on a 3-0 run to tie the frame at 4-4. Murphy hit around the block to tie the score and drive the Orange and Blue on a 5-0 run with Jaeckel behind the service line, taking a 9-5 advantage. Florida continued to extend the lead, not allowing the Wolverines any chance to take it back, and Florida completely shut the door when Jaeckel unleashed an attack down the line that sparked an 8-0 run with Unroe behind the service line. Brown dished a perfect set to Murphy to put Florida one point from the set win, and Murphy attacked an overpass courtesy of a Jaeckel bullet to give the Gators a 25-13 victory and a 2-0 advantage going into intermission.

 

The Gators and Wolverines kept the third set close, tying three times until Michigan went on a 4-0 run that forced Florida into an early timeout as Michigan took a 7-3 lead. The Orange and Blue continued to trail Michigan, but slowly gained ground on the Wolverines. A Murphy bullet tied the set at 12-12, and again at 13-13, but the Gators still could not find a way to take the lead. However, a Michigan attacking error tied the set again at 18 apiece, and Jaeckel powered one through the UM block to give Florida a 19-18 lead and force the Wolverines into a timeout. Michigan and Florida battled, tying the score at 22, 23, 24 and 25, but the Orange and Blue ultimately took the 27-25 win on a Jaeckel kill.

 

Florida now faces No. 3 seed Illinois for a trip to San Antonio and a spot in the Final Four, what would be the Gators’ first trip to the Final Four since their National Championship final appearance in 2003. The Gators and the Fighting Illini will face off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU with Sam Gore and former Georgia All-SEC hitter Maria Taylor with commentary. Longtime play-by-play announcer Tom Collett and former Gator All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore will call the action live for Gator fans on Sportsradio 850.

 

“(Confidence) is something we’ve had to work for, and being able to free ourselves up to play the way that we have been over the tournament has been a battle that we struggled with over the entire year,” Jaeckel said. “I think that we’ve finally found our stride and are confident in ourselves. If we continue to carry that confidence into tomorrow, it will help us sustain the level of play that we’ve had. I think we’re playing as confident as we ever have.”

 

Match Stat Leaders

·         Kills: Kelly Murphy (17)

·         Attacks: Kelly Murphy (29)

·         Hitting Percentage: Betsy Smith (.700)

·         Assists: Chanel Brown (23)

·         Digs: Taylor Unroe (12)

·         Service Aces: Kristy Jaeckel/Taylor Unroe (1)

·         Block Solo: Kristy Jaeckel (2)

·         Block Assists: Betsy Smith (4)

·         Total Blocks: Jaeckel/Smith (4)

 

NCAA Notables

·         Tonight’s win earns the Gators their first bid to the NCAA Regional Finals since 2005

·         The victory marks Florida’s 13th Regional Semifinal victory in program history

·         The Gators hit .439 in the match, which is UF’s fifth-best hitting percentage in the NCAA Tournament and their highest ever past the first round

o    UF’s previous high in the NCAA Regionals was .368 in the 2002 Regional Finals against Washington State

 

Another Triple for Murphy

·         Kelly Murphy recorded her 29th career triple-double this evening, with 17 kills, 21 assists and 10 digs

·         This is Murphy’s third triple-double in the NCAA Tournament, as she achieved the feat against Missouri last weekend and against Florida State in the 2010 NCAA Second Round

 

Individual Bests

·         Kelly Murphy recorded a season-high 17 kills in the match, leading both teams on the night

·         Betsy Smith earned a career-high five digs in the match

o    Smith has set a new career high in each of the past three matches (3 vs. Missouri, 4 vs. UNI)

·         Taylor Unroe recorded a career-high six assists against the Wolverines

 

Gators in the Record Books

·         Kelly Murphy played her 443rd career set tonight, moving her into ninth all-time at UF in career sets played

·         Additionally, Murphy moved past Kisya Killingsworth ’07 into 12th place all-time at UF in career attacks, with a total of 2,690.

·         Murphy’s 10 digs in the match increase her career total to 942, moving her into a tie with Heidi Anderson ’92 for 15th all-time.

 

Milestones Met

·         Kristy Jaeckel earned her 1,300th career kill in the first set, and now sits in seventh all-time with 1,312 kills

 

Record Updates

·         The Gators are now 815-174 (.824) all-time

·         Mary Wise is 740-137 (.844) in her career and 659-74 (.899) at Florida

·         The Orange and Blue are 56-21 (.727) in the NCAA Tournament, and 44-5 (.898) when hosting

·         Florida is 13-7 (.650) in the Regional Semifinals

·         The Gators are now 4-0 (1.000) against Michigan

·         UF is 399-56 (.877) at home, 340-21 (.942) with Coach Wise on the sideline

·         Florida is 651-72 (.900) while ranked and 108-84 (.563) vs. ranked opponents

 

Michigan Team Notes

·         The Wolverines bested their performance from last season (First Round), but their season ends in the Regional Semifinals for the third time in five years

·         Michigan had only advanced to the Regional Finals once, in 2009, and has never been to the Final Four

 

Michigan Individual Notes

·         Alex Hunt led the Wolverine offense with 13 kills on the night

·         Lexi Dannemiller was tops in the match with 32 assists, missing a double-double by a dig, notching nine

·         Sloane Donhoff led the defense with 11 digs, while adding three assists and Michigan’s only ace

 

Florida Head Coach Mary Wise

Opening Statement

“I was told .439 is the highest any Florida team has hit at this round of the NCAA Tournament. We’ve said we thought our team was playing its very best – well, no Gator team has had an offense at that level. Both Kristy (Jaeckel) and Kelly (Murphy) continue to be in the zone. It’s like the game is moving in slow motion for them in terms of their hitting choices, and then add a triple-double for Kelly. I thought we handled their tough serves very well. If that match had gone any longer, Alex Hunt might have had 50 kills. That is one special player. I think we were very fortunate to win in three and that worked just fine for us.”

 

On the challenge of facing Illinois Saturday:

“They are a very, very good team. That’s why they were a No. 1 seed (in the Gainesville Regional). The combination of big time point scorers and the front row and elite players in the back row, the margin of error just gets smaller and smaller. They don’t have a lot of cracks in their system, and that’s why I think that they’ve been so good for so long.”

 

On tonight’s level of play:

“I would tell you it wasn’t just tonight. This is how they’ve been the past few weeks. When they don’t get a kill, it just doesn’t faze them. Right now they have shooter’s mentality, like a basketball player thinking every ball is going to go up and go in, they think ever swing is going to be a kill.”

 

Florida Senior S/RS Kelly Murphy

On toughness of third set:

“I thought they just played harder that set, there weren’t any adjustments. They knew that was it. It’s hard to stop when you have teams playing that hard, but I think we did a good job of responding and just fighting back.”

 

On advancing the farthest the Gators have in the seniors’ career at Florida:

“It feels really good. When we started this senior year, we knew what it felt like to reach the Sweet 16. Just to get one match closer is a feeling of relief, but we know it’s not over and we still have one match to play tomorrow. We hope to still be playing again next weekend.”

 

Florida Senior OH Kristy Jaeckel

On her four blocks against the Wolverines:

“I think watching video, the theme from last week was people trying to attack us on the slide back there. Michigan has a really good slide offense, and it’s something we definitely worked on this week in practice and it paid off.”

 

On each player of the team stepping up:

“It was a back and forth battle for these three sets. Credit to the setters for just finding the open player and making a great set and great choice that allowed the hitters to have more opportunities and more shots to get more kills. Our passing against their great serving, and our setting choices opened up and gave us lots of opportunities for people to get kills.”

 

On improvement since the NCAA First and Second Rounds in Iowa:

“I think that we just focused on winning mini games to five, coming out and being the aggressor and not waiting until we felt like we were comfortable to figure it out.”

 

On the team’s confidence level:

“It’s something we’ve had to work for, and being able to free ourselves up to play the way that we have been over the tournament has been a battle that we struggled with over the entire year. I think that we’ve finally found our stride and are confident in ourselves. If we continue to carry that confidence into tomorrow, it will help us sustain the level of play that we’ve had. I think we’re playing as confident as we ever have.”

 

Michigan Head Coach Mark Rosen

Opening Statement

I thought Florida did a great job tonight. They played really well, especially in the first two sets. They played really clean and tried to attack us and kept us on our heels a little bit. I’m really proud of how our team fought back coming out of the break into game three. It’s synonymous with our season. This team has been fighting all year, fighting through adversity. I was really impressed with how they came back in the third set, and credit to Florida for weathering that, but I’m proud of how our team played. I’m proud of our season.”

 

On adjustments after break:

“I don’t think that we made any adjustments other than that we played a little better. They were very good at getting kills. They did a great job at getting first-ball kills. In transition, they were even better. Every time they dug a ball, they would turn it into a kill. We knew we had to somehow slow that down. We also had to get some first-ball kills as well. I thought we did a better job of executing. Alex (Hunt) did a great job of getting hot in the third game. We really needed that. Defensively, I thought we did a little better job of serving and allowing our defense to get engaged a little bit more. We really just tried to slow them down. Whether it’s their offense or our defense or a combination of both, I thought they played very clean tonight.”

 

On Alex Hunt:

“Alex has been huge from her freshman year when she broke into our lineup. We recruited her as a right-side hitter and had no intention of playing her on the left side, and about a third of the way through her freshman year, we tried her on the left and she never left. She’s had a great career. In this last month, she has been really good, and that’s when we needed her to be that way. You love it when you see your team step up and carry the load when we really need them to.”

 

On going against Florida’s Kelly Murphy and Kristy Jaeckel:

“We knew coming in they were going to be good. They’re two great, very talented players, and I don’t think we had a very good answer for them.”

 

On how the current Michigan team stacks up to the rest:

“This is a very different team than I’ve ever had here. I don’t think I’ve had a team that has fought this hard and tried so hard to create something out of the season. It didn’t come easy. I’ll remember how hard this team fought. As coaches, we challenge them a lot to look at the way we were playing physically, but in the intangible category, we weren’t approaching it very well either. I’ll be proud of this team for the way they fought through that. It’s something that’s very special. I think a lot of teams would have just given up, and this team didn’t.”

 

Michigan Senior L Sloane Donhoff

On her final game at Michigan and what the program has meant:

“It’s a great honor to wear the Block M. Michigan has so much tradition. It’s a great group of girls, and as captain, I’m so proud to be the leader of every single person on our team, especially this year. It definitely has not been the easiest year, but we responded to all of those games. We came in to the NCAA Tournament with nothing to lose, and I couldn’t be more proud to say that I was a part of that team. It was a great run.”

 

Michigan Senior OH Alex Hunt

On her career as a Wolverine:

I’m proud as well, especially this year, fighting through all the obstacles and battling ourselves. Coming back and making it into the Sweet 16 where nobody thought that we would even make it that far, or make it into the NCAA Tournament. I’m really proud of everything we did this season.”

Florida Athletics - A Championship Experience with Integrity - Vision Statement
  • University of Florida
  • NCAA
  • Sun Sports / Fox Sports Florida
  • IMG
  • SEC Network

© 1998 - 2014 University Athletic Assoc., Inc., Sun Sports & IMG College. All Rights Reserved.