Thursday September 20, 2012No. 13 Florida Welcomes Mizzou to Open SEC Home Action on Friday
The No. 13 Florida volleyball team (8-2, 2-0 SEC) returns home to the friendly confines of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to host the Missouri Tigers (10-2, 2-0 SEC) on Friday evening at 7 p.m. The match can be heard live on Country 103.7 The Gator and fans can tune in live to GatorVision for streaming video.
The Gators went 2-0 on the road last weekend, defeating a veteran Arkansas team in five sets before sweeping then-No. 24 Kentucky. 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.
Against the Razorbacks, three Gators led the way in kills, as junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), freshman Živa Recek (Kocejve, 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 for her second career double-double. 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.
Sunday’s match against the Wildcats marked the 1,000th match played in Florida volleyball history and the Gators hold an 823-177 record all-time since the reinstatement of the program in 1984. The sweep was the first 3-0 victory on the road over the Wildcats since November 11, 2007. Sunday’s win was the Gators’ first win over a ranked opponent this season and Florida is 106-82 all-time against ranked opponents.
Florida’s veteran hitters led the way offensively on Sunday, as seniors Smith and Wiggs each notched 10 kills on the afternoon, hitting .444 and .556, respectively. Junior middle blocker Mann led all players with a match-high 12 kills against the ‘Cats, hitting a match-high .579 to go along with three blocks.
Defense was a major theme for Sunday’s match, as the Orange and Blue outblocked Kentucky, who leads the SEC in blocks, 8.0-2.0. Sophomore libero Unroe had one of the best matches of her career against the ‘Cats, tallying 17 digs (5.67/set) and registering a perfect serve receive percentage for the ninth match this season. She was awarded the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts.
The Mizzou volleyball team went 2-0 in its first-ever SEC matches, including a marquee win over No. 17 Tennessee, last year’s league champion and this year’s preseason favorite. In that match that aired nationally on ESPNU, the Tigers rallied from down 0-2 and 15-20 in the third set to win the match, marking the first time that Mizzou has overcome a 0-2 deficit since Sept. 26, 2009, against Texas A&M. The match was also the Tigers’ first win over a ranked opponent since Oct. 29 of last season when they knocked off No. 21 Oklahoma.
The Tigers then came back and swept Ole Miss at the Hearnes Center on Sunday, improving them to 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2005 when they were still members of the Big 12. Junior All-American Lisa Henning posted 39 kills on .299 hitting while sophomore Whitney Little hit .419 with 20 kills and a team-high 12 blocks over the two matches and had 10 blocks vs. Tennessee.
Setter Molly Kreklow averaged 11.50 assists per set while guiding the team to 13.25 kills per set on .288 hitting. The Tigers have now held opponents to less than .200 hitting in nine of 12 matches and rank fourth in the SEC in opponent hitting percentage (.164).
This is just the second matchup all-time for Florida and Mizzou, and the first on either team’s home court. The Gators and the Tigers met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season at Northern Iowa, with Florida taking a 3-1 victory en route to their first Elite Eight appearance since 2005.
The match will serve as a homecoming of sorts, as the 1992 Final Four team will be honored at both the volleyball match on Friday evening between sets 2 and 3, and during the football game on Saturday afternoon.
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Florida Volleyball vs. Missouri - PROMOTIONS