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Photo: Gorman Findley

Friday August 31, 2012Recek Sets Florida Freshman Record as No. 18 Gators Fall to No. 2 Texas, 3-0

University Park, Pa.

Photo: Gorman Findley

Freshman Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) had the match of a lifetime, hitting 22 kills on a .475 hitting clip, but it wasn’t enough as the No. 18 Florida Gators fell 3-0 (29-27, 25-22, 26-24) to No. 2 Texas in the opening match of the Nike Big Four Classic at Rec Hall on the campus of No. 4 Penn State. The Gators are now 3-1 on the season while the Longhorns move to 5-0 in 2012.


“Texas, the second-ranked team in the nation, with their physicality and size…no one besides probably the Gators and the fans that are here gave us a chance,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “The score was exactly as anyone would have predicted based on Texas and their talent and where we are in our progression. Those three sets, our team played their hearts out. We competed and worked so hard.”


Recek’s 22-kill performance marks the best 3-set hitting performance by a freshman in Florida history and ties her for third-best in a 3-set match in program history. The Slovenia native was virtually unstoppable against the Longhorns, tallying only three errors for the afternoon on 40 swings.


“Živa was nothing short of sensational,” Wise commented. “For her to set a record, and we’ve had some pretty phenomenal freshman in the past, but for her to set that mark, I think it shows her skill, as well as the fact that Taylor did a great job distributing the ball and getting it to Živa and Chloe, who were our hot hands.”


Junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) had 16 kills against the Longhorns, while fellow middle blocker Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.) had seven. Mann hit .394 on the afternoon and Antwi put up an even .400 offensive clip.


Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) was fantastic for Florida, dishing out 47 assists and aiding the Gators to a .314 hitting percentage. Florida outhit Texas .314-.313. On the defensive side of things, it was sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) who led the way with 15 digs for the Orange and Blue. Unroe also tallied three assists and a service ace against the Longhorns while continuing her perfect serve-receive percentage on the season.


A trio of Gators also did their part for Florida’s backcourt, as sophomore Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) notched eight digs and Brauneis and freshman Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.) each registered seven scoops apiece.


A marathon first set went the Longhorns’ way, as Florida played catch-up throughout the opening stanza. Texas jumped out to an early lead but two quick kills by Mann and Brauneis tied things up at 2-2, and a kill through the seam of the block by Recek gave Florida its first lead of the match, 3-2. The teams continued to battle, trading the lead before Texas went up 10-7 on a kill by Haley Eckerman. A Florida net violation forced a Gator timeout at 12-8. Texas continued its run out of the timeout, going up 16-10 before Recek found the seam once again for a slam to start a 3-0 run. A Recek tip closed the gap at 16-13 and forced a Texas timeout.


The Gators continued to surge, coming within two, 17-15, courtesy of a Texas net violation. The Longhorns battled back and pulled ahead, 20-16. A Whaley-Mann stuff block and an ensuing Mann kill pulled Florida within one, 20-19, forcing a Texas timeout. Another Mann kill off the Longhorn triple block tied things up at 20 apiece. Texas rattled off two quick points to force a Florida timeout at 22-20. Recek tallied back-to-back kills to save three set points and tie the set at 24-24. Florida saved another set point to tie the set at 25-25. The Longhorns tooled the block to bring up their fifth set point at 26-25. Recek put down another kill to tie the set once again, but missed a serve long to bring up a sixth set point for Texas. Whaley stuffed a McNeal attack and tied the set at 27-27. An Eckerman kill and Sha’Dare McNeal ace edged the set Texas’ way, 29-27.


Texas jumped out to an early 4-1 lead behind the serve of McNeal, the same Longhorn who ended the first set on an ace. Florida battled and pulled within one, 7-6, behind the serve of the Gators’ serving leader, Antwi. The quick set out of the middle continued to work well for the Orange and Blue, pulling within one at 9-8. Florida tied the set at 9-9 with an ace by Whaley. The teams traded serve until a Recek kill gave Florida a 12-11 advantage. An Antwi overpass kill kept the Gators out front, 13-12. A gutsy set by Brauneis left Mann with a wide open net to slam one down and put Florida ahead, 16-14, forcing a Texas timeout. Mann tallied her fourth straight kill to give the Gators an 18-15 advantage.


UT rattled off two quick points to force Florida’s first timeout of the set at 18-17. A Longhorn stuff block tied the set at 18 apiece and the Longhorns took the lead off a Hannah Allison service ace, 20-19. Brauneis tipped into the Texas block to give the Longhorns a 21-19 advantage and force Florida’s final timeout of the set. Khat Bell killed it to score Texas’ fifth straight point, 23-19. A Texas net violation put Florida above the double decade mark at 23-20. Recek tallied back-to-back kills to pull Florida within two at 24-22 but a Bailey Webster kill gave Texas the second set, 25-22.


The Gators had a quick start, going up 6-3 behind big swings by Recek. A Mann kill in transition gave Florida a 7-4 lead early in set three. Another Recek kill gave her 20 on the afternoon and put the Gators ahead, 9-6. Texas went on a mini run and tied the set at 9-9 before Recek swung big again to put Florida ahead, 10-9. Texas served up an ace to take their first lead of the set, 11-10. The teams traded serve and the lead multiple times courtesy of long service errors by both squads. Florida took timeout after an Amy Neal kill gave Texas a 16-15 advantage.


Mann tipped one behind the block out of the timeout to tie the set at 16-16. An Unroe service ace gave Florida the lead at 17-16. The teams continued to battle and a Recek kill, her 22nd of the night, forced a Texas timeout with Florida ahead at 19-18. The Gators tied things up at 21-21 off a Recek service ace but two quick points by Texas gave them a two-point advantage. Back-to-back stuff blocks by Mann and junior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) tied the set at 23-23. A Mann kill saved match point and tied things up at 24-24. Back-to-back Webster kills gave the Longhorns the match, 26-24.


Next up for the Gators is No. 9 Stanford, who plays in the nightcap. The Cardinal face No. 4 Penn State on the Nittany Lions’ home court later this evening. First serve between the Gators and the Cardinal is set for 4 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon.


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