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Friday September 14, 2012Balanced Attack Leads No. 13 Florida Past Arkansas, 3-2

Fayetteville, Ark.

All five Florida hitters were in the double digits on Friday evening, as the No. 13 University of Florida volleyball team (7-2, 1-0 SEC) battled back from a first set defeat to overtake Arkansas (9-3, 0-1 SEC) in five, 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 15-13), in front of a raucous record crowd of 3,015 at Barnhill Arena.

 

“Winning in Barnhill against a veteran Arkansas team was huge for us,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “For us to grind it out, I just can’t say enough about our players’ work ethic.”

 

Three Gators led the way in kills, as junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), freshman Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) and senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) each tallied 13 kills, with Wiggs producing a match-high .500 offensive clip to lead all hitters.

 

Senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) had her best match of the year with a career-high 12 kills, as she worked the slide play to her advantage. Freshman Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) tallied a career-high 10 kills on the night to go along with three stuff blocks.

 

Defensively, sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) scooped a career-high 24 digs, while Recek added a career-high 15. At the net, Mann stuffed five blocks against the Razorbacks, while Mallette, Smith and Wiggs registered three each. Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out a season-best 53 assists and added a season-high five kills.

 

Friday night was the first time since November 24, 2007 where five Gators were in double-digit kills and the first time in a victory since a 3-1 rout of Utah on August 26, 2006.

 

The Gator block got things going early, as Mallette and Mann teamed up for a stuff and Mann immediately followed with a solo block of her own, going up 2-0 on the Razorbacks. Arkansas didn’t let down though and the teams tied things up twice before Arkansas took the lead, 7-6, off a Florida blocking error to spark a 4-0 run for the Razorbacks. The Gators slowly chipped away at the Arkansas lead and cut it to two off an Arkansas hitting error to force a Razorback timeout with UF down, 14-12.

 

Arkansas went on a 3-0 run out of the timeout, jumping ahead with Florida down 17-13, but the Gators put together a run of their own behind the serve of Unroe to close the gap to just one, 17-16. The Razorbacks surged out of the timeout, going on a 3-0 run to pull ahead, 20-16, and force a Florida timeout. The Gators came out of the break inspired, going on a 5-0 run behind the serve of Recek to tie things up at 21. Mallette and Smith teamed up for the block at 22-22 and an Arkansas ball handling error tied the set at 23-23. Kills by Fortado and Norton edged the set the Razorbacks’ way, 25-23.

 

The teams traded ties and the lead early and often, but Arkansas took a two-point lead off a Torres kill to go ahead 14-12. Both sides continued to battle and Florida edged within one, down 16-15, with a stuff block by Mann and Wiggs. Out of the timeout, Wiggs slammed a kill through the middle to tie the set at 16. Both teams sided out but Mann slammed two kills to edge Florida ahead, 19-18. Arkansas continued to battle and tied things up at 20. Smith registered a kill off the slide to force a Razorback timeout with the Gators leading 22-21 and Mallette slammed one of her own to go ahead, 23-21. Back-to-back Razorback errors

 

Arkansas jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the third set and held the three-point advantage throughout the opening points of the third stanza. The Gators pulled tied things up off an Arkansas hitting error at 11-all. The teams continued to battle and back-to-back Recek kills forced a Razorback timeout with the Gators ahead, 15-14. Recek nailed one down the line to put Florida ahead, 17-16, and Smith blocked the attempted dump kill by Santos to force another Arkansas timeout at 18-16.

 

Florida burned a timeout as the Razorbacks tied things up at 20 off a kill by Norton. Back-to-back kills by Mann put the Gators back ahead at 22-20 and a Wiggs kill extended the advantage, 23-20. Mann set up set point at 24-21 with a quick set smash out of the middle. Recek sealed the set for the Orange and Blue with a kill, 25-22.

 

The teams kept it tight early but an ace by Smith and an ensuing hitting error by Arkansas forced a Razorback timeout with the Gators leading, 9-7. Arkansas surged back and went on a 6-0 run to go ahead, 15-9. Mann registered back-to-back kills to cut the lead to four, Florida down 15-11. The momentum continued on the Razorbacks’ side of the net and they forced a Florida timeout with the Gators down, 19-13. Recek slammed a kill through the seam of the Arkansas block to try and spark the Gators, down 22-15. An Acosta kill set up set point at 24-15 but the Gators saved four set points behind the serve of senior Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) but a kill by Torres gave Arkansas the set, 25-19.

 

The Florida block didn’t let the Gators down to start the fifth, as Mann and Wiggs roofed Norton to start the set. The Razorbacks took timeout as the Orange and Blue went up 3-0 off a transition kill from Recek. Mann nailed a kill off the quick set from Brauneis to go ahead, 4-1. The Gators continued to surge, as Brauneis dumped a kill to lead at the changeover, 8-6. Mallette slammed a kill from Monserez to lead 9-6.

 

An Arkansas hitting error forced the Razorbacks to burn their final timeout as the Gators led, 11-7. Brauneis served up an ace at 12-7 but Arkansas inched within three with Florida leading 12-9. Wiggs had a smart swing out-of-system to put Florida within two of the match, 13-9. Arkansas went on a mini run to pull within two, 13-11. A Florida misfire put the Razorbacks within one, 13-12 but Mann killed the overpass to set up match point at 14-12. A Wiggs kill sealed the match for Florida, winning the fifth and decisive set, 15-13.

 

Next up for Florida is the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats. First serve is set for 1 p.m. ET and longtime Florida play-by-play announcer Tom Collett will have the call on ESPN 850/900. UKAthletics.com will have a live video feed on their site and live stats can be found on GatorZone.com.

 

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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