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Sunday October 21, 2012No. 11 Gators Storm Back from Down 0-2 to Defeat Aggies, 3-2

College Station, Texas

The No. 11 Florida volleyball team faced a seemingly insurmountable challenge on Sunday, as the Gators were down 0-2 to an experienced Texas A&M team with a rocking crowd of 1,727 Aggie faithful at Reed Arena.

 

Florida, as they did Oct. 7 at home against Kentucky, came together and came back as the Gators won the final three sets to claim the match, 3-2 (14-25, 25-27, 25-23, 25-23, 15-6), and stay undefeated in the SEC.

 

The Orange and Blue are now 17-2 on the season and 11-0 in conference play, while the Aggies fall to 15-5 on the year and 7-4 in conference action.

 

“Down 0-2, due in large part to how well Texas A&M was playing, our team showed so much character to just hang in there until we got some things on track,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We got better as the match went on, thus we were able to come back and win.”

 

Florida’s middles had a stellar afternoon, as junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) smashed 19 kills on a .486 hitting efficiency with only one error, and senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) tallied a career-high 15 kills. Mann tied with senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) for six blocks against the Aggies, while Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) turned in her first double-double at Florida with season highs of 55 assists and 14 digs. Brauneis also served up a team-high two aces on the afternoon.

 

“We don’t win that match without the play of our middles, both offensive and defensively,” Wise commented. “Their play this afternoon combined with the set distribution of Taylor Brauneis is a reason we were able to even have a chance to come back against a team like Texas A&M.”

 

Florida’s freshman outside hitters Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) and Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) both hit double-digit kills, as Recek and Mann recorded 13 and 10 kills, respectively. Wiggs had nine kills on the afternoon for 12.5 points.

 

The comeback marked the fourth time in four years Florida rallied from an 0-2 hole to beat an opponent and the third time in program history the Gators have come back from an 0-2 deficit twice in one season. UF has come back from an 0-2 deficit 17 times in program history, eight of those on the road.

 

The Gators fell in the first set, 14-25. The teams battled to open the match, with a Mann solo stuff giving the Gators a 5-3 lead. The Aggies used scrappy defense to stop the high-powered Florida offense, winning back-to-back rallies to go ahead, 9-6. A slam down the line by Recek kept the Gators within striking distance, down 11-8. An A&M attacking error put Florida within two, down 12-10.

 

The Aggies rattled off two quick points, forcing Florida into their first timeout of the set, down 14-10. Texas A&M continued to roll out of the timeout, as the Gators burned their final timeout of the set, down 17-10. Florida was unable to stop the Texas A&M momentum, as the Aggies took the first stanza, 25-14.

 

The Aggies took the second stanza, 27-25. Florida started well early in the second frame, as a Mann kill and a Mann-Wiggs block put the Gators ahead, 2-0. Texas A&M regained its momentum from the first set, jumping ahead to a 6-3 lead and forcing a Florida timeout. The Gators began to get their passing legs back, making it easier for Brauneis to distribute the ball as Florida pulled within one, down 10-9.

 

 Florida won a long rally to get within two, 13-11, and an Unroe ace made it a one-point Aggie advantage, UF down 13-12. A Recek tool off the block kept the set tight, down 14-13. A Recek-Smith stuff block got the Gators back within one, down 15-14. The Aggies began to pull away, as an A&M roof forced the Gators into a timeout, down 21-17.

 

Florida battled back, using a Recek-Smith block and back-to-back Smith kills to get within one of the A&M lead, down 22-21, forcing an Aggie timeout. A Mallette kill tied the set at 23-23 but A&M made it to set point first with UF down, 24-23. A Smith kill tied the set at 24-24, saving a set point. A Mallette kill to the back corner set up set point for the Gators with their first lead of the set since 2-0, UF up 25-24. An A&M kill saved the set for the Aggies, 25-25. Back-to-back Tori Mellinger kills tilted the set in Texas A&M’s favor, 27-25.

 

Florida staved off a late Texas A&M rally to take the third set, 25-23. The teams battled to open the third frame, as a Smith stuff block tied the set, 4-4. Smith tipped over the block on the slide to pull ahead, 6-5. A Mellinger attacking error put the Gators up by two, 7-5. A Smith slide kill kept the two-point advantage in Florida’s favor, 8-6. A Mann-Wiggs stuff block and ensuing Aggie hitting error forced an A&M timeout as Florida jumped ahead, 12-7. A Wiggs solo stuff put the Gators ahead, 14-7. Smith slammed one to the left of the A&M block to lead 18-11.

 

The Aggies put together three straight points to force a Gator timeout with Florida leading 18-14. A&M scored another three straight out of the timeout, cutting the Gator lead to one at 18-17. Mann slammed a kill through the A&M block to lead, 20-18 and a Wiggs kill off the block put Florida within four of the set, 21-20. The Aggies called timeout after an A&M hitting error with Florida leading, 22-20. Recek killed one off hands to put the Gators within two of the set, 23-21. A Recek-Smith roof gave Florida set point, 24-21. After two quick Aggie points, Florida called timeout ahead 24-23. Recek took the set into her hands, slamming a kill through the seam in the A&M block to take the third set, 25-23.

 

In the fourth set, the Aggies and the Gators battled but the set went the Gators’ way, 25-23. Texas A&M jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead in the fourth set but Florida rattled off three straight to tie the set, 5-5. A Mallette off-speed kill pulled the Gators within one of the Aggie lead, UF down 8-7. Texas A&M strung together two-in-a-row to pull ahead, 10-7. A Mallette kill and Brauneis service ace put Florida within one, down 10-9. An A&M block extended the Aggie lead and forced a Gator timeout, UF down 13-10. A Mann kill out of the timeout cut the A&M lead to two, UF down 13-11, and a Smith kill kept the set close, trailing 14-12.

 

After an Aggie run put A&M up by five, the Gators put together one of their own, tying the set 17-17 behind the serve of Recek and forcing an A&M timeout. Florida scored two straight out of the timeout to lead 19-17. Mallette nailed a kill high off-hands to go ahead, 20-18. Texas A&M scored two straight to tie the set at 20-20. A Mann kill and Mann-Wiggs roof put the Gators within three of the set and forced an Aggie timeout, 22-20. Kills by Mann and Recek gave Florida three set points, 24-21, but A&M saved two of them to force a Gator timeout at 24-23. Mann slammed her 17th kill of the afternoon to force the fifth, 25-23.

 

The Gators took two of the first three points of the fifth and decisive set and never looked back. Wiggs tooled one off the block and Recek cut a kill inside the block to lead, 2-1. Wiggs ripped a kill in the middle to lead, 3-2. Smith used her go-to slide to go up 4-3 and back-to-back A&M hitting errors gave the Gators a three-point advantage, 6-3. Kills by Smith and Mann put Florida ahead, 8-4, as the teams switched sides.

 

Two kills by Mallette and a backrow slam by Recek put the Gators up, 12-5, forcing an A&M timeout. Mann slammed one through the seam in the Aggie block to go ahead, 13-6, and a Mann-Wiggs block set up match point at 14-6. Recek slammed one down the line to give the Gators the set and the match, 15-6.

 

The Gators have a quick turnaround next week, traveling to Tallahassee for its yearly showdown with in-state foe Florida State. The Seminoles are currently ranked 12th in the most recent AVCA poll. First serve is set for 6 p.m. ET with the broadcast live on ESPN3.

 

Florida then faces off with Mississippi State on Friday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators and the Bulldogs face off at 7 p.m. ET with live video on GatorVision and radio on ESPN 850/900. Florida is off for the rest of the weekend after their matchup with MSU.

 

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.

 

0-2 Comeback Victories in Florida Volleyball History

10/21/12

@ Texas A&M

10/7/12

vs. Kentucky

11/13/11

@ Arkansas

9/6/08

vs. Long Beach State

11/20/04

vs. Georgia (SEC Tournament Semifinal in Gainesville, Fla.)

9/21/01

@ South Carolina

11/18/01

vs. Arkansas (SEC Tournament Final in Lexington, Ky.)

12/11/98

vs. Hawaii (NCAA Regional Final in Gainesville, Fla.)

12/14/97

vs. Wisconsin (NCAA Regional Final in Madison, Wisc.)

8/30/96

vs. Duke

12/2/95

vs. Texas Tech (NCAA First Round in Gainesville, Fla.)

12/12/92

vs. Texas (NCAA Regional Final in Gainesville, Fla.)

9/23/88

@ Colorado State

10/1/88

@ Utah State

10/22/86

@ Kentucky

9/11/85

@ Florida State

11/2/84

vs. Cincinnati (in Tallahassee, Fla.)

Shading denotes home victory

 

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