Friday October 12, 2012No. 11 Gators Earn Ninth Sweep of 2012 with 3-0 Victory Over Ole Miss
The No. 11 University of Florida volleyball team earned its ninth sweep of the season, defeating the Ole Miss Rebels in three sets (25-14, 25-12, 25-22) to remain unbeaten in the SEC (8-0). The Gators move to 14-2 in 2012 while the Rebels fall to below .500 at 8-9 on the season and 2-6 in conference play.
Reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) led all players on the floor with a match-high 17 kills, hitting .385 with two blocks for 18.5 points. Sophomore defensive specialist Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) had one of the best matches of her career, tallying a season-high 13 digs and a career-high three aces, tying for the team high with senior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), who also turned in a career high (3) in aces. Pole led the team in digs for the first time in her career.
“This match was the tale of the first two sets,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We just got into such a great serving rhythm and scored some relatively easy points off the serve. We addressed the team during the break, saying that if Ole Miss found some passing rhythm, they have enough point scorers that (the match) would look very different. Lo and behold, that’s what happened (in the third set). They started passing well and Kara Morgan, their junior outside hitter who is playing the best volleyball of her career, kind of went off there.
“But to win the first two (sets) like we did and have to grind it out for the third one and be able to rest Chloe (in the third set), it was a good night for the Gators,” Wise commented.
Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) hit .750 with an errorless six kills to go along with three blocks. On the night, the Gators put up 10.0 blocks for their fourth-straight double-digit blocking effort of the season and fifth overall. Freshman outside hitter Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) stuffed four blocks on the evening, adding four errorless kills against the Rebels.
“Being able to help defensively just really helps our team with momentum and energy because I feel like that’s where we get most of it,” Mallette said. “It feels great being able to help and to be out (playing) on the court in general. It feels good.”
Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) directed the Gators to a .337 hitting percentage against the Rebels, the 11th time Florida has hit above .300 in 2012. Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) scooped 10 digs and served up two aces on the night.
The Gators rattled off four straight points to open the match behind the serve of Smith and continued to roll, taking an 8-2 advantage into the first set. Recek put up a solo stuff and put down a slam through the seam of the block to go ahead, 10-2. Recek and Smith teamed up for a block to continue the Gator lead, 13-7. Ole Miss began to chip away at the Florida advantage, pulling within three at 13-10, forcing a Gator timeout. The Orange and Blue got the momentum back on their side of the net, ending the set on a 10-4 run. Senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) put the opening set away with her first kill of the match, 25-14.
The second set was much tighter than the first, as the teams battled neck-and-neck to open the frame. Ole Miss pulled within one of Florida with the Gators leading 8-7 but the Orange and Blue went on a tear, outscoring the Rebels 13-2 to pull away at 21-9, highlighted by four service aces and an impressive stuff by Mallette and Mann. Recek put away three kills in the closing points to give the Gators the second set, 25-12.
The Gators jumped out to a significant lead in the third set, as Brauneis used her tricky jump float to keep the Rebel passers on their heels. Back-to-back Gator blocks kept the Florida momentum as Ole Miss burned a timeout with the Orange and Blue leading, 7-1. The Rebels weren’t about to back down, slowly chipping away at the Gator lead to pull within two of the Florida lead, 11-9. Ole Miss looped a kill into the middle of the Gator defense, inching within one of the UF advantage, 12-11. An Ole Miss ace out of the break and an ensuing dumped kill by senior Amanda Philpot gave the Rebels their first lead of the match, as Florida trailed 13-12. The Gators continued to fight and took back control of the set off a dumped kill by Brauneis, forcing a Rebel timeout at 20-18. Florida kept the two-point advantage late in the set, and Smith’s third ace of the night set up match point for the Gators, 24-22. A Rebel error titled the third frame in the Gators’ favor, 25-22.
The Gators return to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center to host the Auburn Tigers in a televised matchup on Sun Sports with Larry Vettel and former Florida All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore commentating. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. ET and fans can hear the match live on Country 103.7 The Gator with Tom Collett and Cory Stephens on the call. Gator fans can also watch the match live on GatorVision.
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.