Saturday August 25, 2012No. 18/20 Gators Claim Campus USA Credit Union Invitational Title
Behind a season-best 16 kills from MVP junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), the No. 18/20 University of Florida volleyball team (3-0, 0-0 SEC) earned its third straight sweep with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-16) victory over Florida Gulf Coast (2-1, 0-0 A-Sun) on Saturday evening to close out the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational with the title. The Gators hit .330 on the night and .368 on the weekend, averaging 14.7 kills per set.
“It was our defense that kept us in play… since we aren’t going to overpower you, we need to be spunky in the back row,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “It allows us to keep the ball in play and any time we keep the ball in play, we’ve got a better chance of getting it to Chloe Mann,”
Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) recorded a match-high 17 digs and fellow sophomore Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) was second on the night with nine scoops. The Gators put together a .978 passing percentage, only allowing two reception errors on the weekend alone.
“Tonight we sputtered with our serving and we are a team that’s going to be high-risk, high-reward serving,” Wise said. “There are going to be some service errors. We strung a few too many in a row, especially in the second set…but it was our defense that kept us in play.”
Freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) added a career-high 12 kills, hitting .455 on the evening. Recek was named to the All-Tournament Team along with setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.), who had 37 assists against the Eagles and tied with Mann for a match-high four blocks apiece. Senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) hit .833 (5-0-6) on the night and freshman middle blocker Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.) hit .308 to go along with a career-high five service aces.
The teams traded points to open the match before the Gators went on a 5-0 run behind the serve of Antwi, who served up an ace to force an Eagles timeout at 9-4. FGCU went on a run to close the gap at 10-8 but a Mann kill at the end of a nearly minute-long rally shifted the momentum towards the Orange and Blue, 12-8. Florida continued to surge and, despite the Eagles’ scrappy defense, won every long rally in the first set. Mann ended yet another rally with a kill off a quick set from Brauneis, forcing a FGCU timeout at 18-12. Brauneis had a stellar solo stuff to put Florida ahead, 21-15.
Florida took an early 3-0 advantage behind the serve of Pole. Recek slammed one down the line to extend the lead, 7-5. The Eagles kept things tight, but Recek continued to find seams in the block, going ahead 17-12 and forcing an Eagles timeout. Brauneis continued to feed the middle during the Gator run, finding Antwi with a one-handed set to go ahead, 18-13. Antwi served up an ace to go up 21-16 and Recek and Mann teamed up for a stuff block to bring up set point, 24-18. Recek continued to punish the FGCU block, killing another one down the line to give the Gators the second set, 25-19.
The Eagles took an early lead in set three, going ahead 5-2. Wiggs killed the Eagles’ rally with a slam through the block to spark a Florida rally and tie things up at 6 apiece. The teams traded the lead before Recek earned a kill in transition and Whaley followed with an ace. Florida continued to roll, as Mann and Brauneis teamed up for a roof and Brauneis tipped on two to force a Florida Gulf Coast timeout, 13-10. Mann and Brauneis shut down the Eagles once again, slamming a stuff block at 14-11. The Gators continued to surge, leading by as much as seven after a Pole ace at 23-16. The match ended the way it started, off a kill from Mann to take the match, 25-16.
Next up for Florida is the third annual Nike Big Four Classic, which pits No. 2 Texas and No. 6 Stanford against the No. 18 Gators at Rec Hall on the campus of No. 3 Penn State. The Orange and Blue face the Longhorns at 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday before taking the court against the Cardinal at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Florida vs. FGCU Game Notes
· Today's match marked the first meeting between Florida and FGCU.
· For the ninth-consecutive year, the University of Florida started their season 3-0.
· UF recorded three blocks in the first set of play. That matched their season-high for 2012.
· The University of Florida remained unbeaten in Campus USA Credit Union Invitational play. UF improved their record to 23-0 all-time.
· FGCU was held to a hitting percentage of -.037 in the first set, the lowest for a Florida opponent this season.
· Florida recorded a season-best eight blocks against FGCU.
· UF opened up the 2012 season with three sweeps. This marks the second-consecutive year the team has done so.
· Taylor Unroe tallied 17 digs on the night, a season-best.
· Tangerine Wiggs recorded four kills, a season-high.
· Freshman Živa Recek matched her career-best with 12 kills.
· Chloe Mann set a new season-high with 16 kills against FGCU.
· All-Tournament Team
o MVP: Chloe Mann, Florida
o Taylor Brauneis, Florida
o Živa Recek, Florida
o Maria Ceccarelli, Florida A&M
o Marjia Prsa, FIU
o Kaitlin Holm, Florida Gulf Coast