Friday September 7, 2012No. 15 Gators Host Second Annual Active Ankle Challenge
The No. 15 University of Florida volleyball team welcomes Jacksonville, Louisiana and Georgia Tech as the Gators host the Active Ankle Challenge Friday and Saturday, September 7-8, at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators are the reigning Active Ankle Challenge champions, having won the event a year ago when it was the Active Ankle SEC/ACC Challenge.
The Orange and Blue face off against the Jacksonville Dolphins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana at 12 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. All Florida matches will stream live on GatorVision and each of the Gators’ match-ups can be heard live with the call from longtime play-by-play announcer Tom Collett and former Gator All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore. Friday’s match and the Saturday’s noon match can be found on ESPN 850/900, while Saturday evening’s showdown can be heard on GatorZone.com.
Florida is coming off the third annual Nike Big Four Classic, where the Gators dropped matches to then-No. 2 Texas (0-3: 27-29, 22-25, 24-26) and then-No. 9 Stanford (1-3: 25-22, 22-25, 20-25, 16-25) over the weekend. Freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) was named SEC Freshman of the Week for Florida’s first weekly honor of the 2012 season. Recek was named to the Nike Big Four Classic All-Tournament team for her performances against the Longhorns and the Cardinal. In Florida’s match against Texas, Recek hit .475 and posted 22 kills, the highest kill output for a freshman in a 3-set match in Florida history. The performance ties her for third all-time in UF history in a 3-set match.
Junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) was not far behind Recek, tallying 29 kills over the two-day tournament. Junior Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) directed the offense with 97 assists and added 14 digs to tie for second-most on the weekend. Sophomore Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) led the Gators’ back row with 28 digs (4.00/set) and three aces to go along with a perfect serve-receive percentage for the fourth and fifth straight match. Unroe has accomplished the feat 17 times in her career.
Florida is in the middle of a six-match stretch in eight days, having played two matches this past weekend before facing the Slovenian Junior National Team in an exhibition match on Monday.
Jacksonville has had a slow start to the 2012 season, starting 0-6 including four sweeps. JU narrowly lost to College of Charleston and Liberty, both in five, but haven’t been able to capture that first elusive win. Under the direction of new head coach Michelle Collier, the Dolphins return three starters in setter Kendall Courtney and middle blockers Kylie Jacob and Alison Loeppky. The Gators are undefeated against the Dolphins, going an impressive 15-0 all-time against JU and 8-0 under Florida head coach Mary Wise.
Louisiana is 4-3 heading into the Active Ankle Challenge, having their four-match win streak snapped by Lamar on Tuesday night. The Ragin’ Cajuns captured the Bon Temps Invitational title over the weekend. Preseason All-Sun Belt selection Mandi Gavin picked up MVP honors at the invite, running a 6-2 along with Andrea Hole. Gavin hit .500 on the weekend to go along with 116 assists. This is Florida’s first meeting with Louisiana.
Georgia Tech jumped out to a 5-0 start to 2012 before dropping their first match of the year to Indiana on the road last weekend. The Ramblin’ Wreck are led by senior right-side hitter Monique Mead, who was named honorable mention AVCA All-America in 2011. She and redshirt senior outside hitter Bailey Hunter each have 88 kills on the season, while senior libero Nicki Meyer returns to a starting role for her third straight season, having led the Yellow Jackets in digs the last two seasons. This is Florida’s first meeting with Georgia Tech, but head coach Tonya Johnson is quite familiar with the Gator tradition, having assisted LSU head coach Fran Flory from 1998-2003.
The Active Ankle Challenge is the final pre-conference tournament for the Orange and Blue, as the Gators begin SEC play next weekend when they travel to their first true road matches against Arkansas and No. 19 Kentucky. Florida plays just one non-conference match after this weekend, when they face their oldest non-conference rival in Florida State on Wednesday, October 24 in Tallahassee.
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.
Friday, September 7, 7:30 PM - Jacksonville
Saturday, September 8, 12:00 PM - Louisiana
Saturday, September 8, 7:30 PM - Georgia Tech