Friday November 2, 2012No. 13 Gators Sweep SEC Foe Georgia, 3-0
The No. 13 University of Florida volleyball team (19-3, 13-0 SEC) swept SEC rival Georgia, 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-14), to stay undefeated in conference action. The Bulldogs fall to 13-10 on the year and 7-6 in SEC play.
Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) led all players with a match-high 14 kills on 21 swings (.619), while freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) turned in her fifth career double-double with 12 kills and a match-high 11 digs. Fellow freshman outside hitter Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.) turned in five kills (.455) and two blocks in her first start since Sept. 1, while senior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) led with a match-high four blocks.
“With Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) setting, we have so many options offensively. We feel if we can give Taylor at least two options, ideally three, that we can side-out on a consistent basis,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “That’s what we’ve been pretty good at all year with Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) anchoring the serve-receive.”
Brauneis dished out 33 assists on the evening to go along with six digs, while Unroe served up three aces against the Bulldogs. Sophomore defensive specialist Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) scooped six digs and served up a career-high four aces against Georgia, and fellow sophomores Unroe and Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) registered eight and seven digs, respectively.
The Gators held Georgia to .086 hitting on the night, their second straight match and seventh match of the season where Florida has not allowed higher than .100 offensive efficiency.
“We knew all week that Georgia was much improved,” Smith said. “We’ve been really focused on beating Georgia tonight. We knew that was a huge win for us. We felt really good about it. Our backcourt defense did a really good job executing the game plan.”
The Gators kept the Bulldog offense on its heels by serving aggressively, recording nine service aces on the night, tying their SEC-high (nine vs. Ole Miss, 10/12/12) for the season.
“Serving well gives us momentum,” Unroe, who tallied three aces against the Bulldogs, said. “When you get a couple overpasses, and the front row can hit them down, it just gives us momentum overall. Serving is the one thing you can do by yourself to help the team, so it feels really good to serve well.”
The Gators took the opening set, 25-15. Florida started the match on a 2-0 run behind a dumped kill by Brauneis and an ace by Pole. Georgia responded with a streak of their own, going up 5-2 early in the opening stanza. The Gators chipped away at the Bulldog lead and tied the frame at 7-all with a smart swing off the block by Whaley. The Orange and Blue continue to surge, forcing a timeout at 12-8 after a Whaley-Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.) stuff block. Aces by Pole and Unroe helped the Gator cause, and a slide kill by Antwi sparked a 4-0 Florida run to force a Georgia timeout, 18-11. A kill by Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) put the Gators within two of the set win, 23-15, and a stuff block by Antwi and Whaley gave the Gators the first frame victory, 25-15.
Florida edged Georgia in the second set, 25-23. Georgia jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the second stanza, but the Gators weren’t going to let down and cut the Bulldog lead to one courtesy of a Mann-Recek stuff block. Florida tied the set at 7-all and continued to surge, forcing a Bulldog timeout at 9-7 after a Georgia attacking error. UGA tied the set at 9-9 but UF continued to push, using back-to-back aces to pull ahead, 16-11. Two straight kills for Smith put the Gators up, 18-12. Georgia stopped the Florida momentum and went on a surge of their own, pulling within three, 20-17, and forcing a UF timeout. The Bulldogs scored two straight out of the timeout to pull within one, 20-19, and continued to battle, tying the set at 22-all and forcing a final Florida timeout. Recek slammed one down the pipe to get ahead, 23-22, and did it again to set up set point, 24-23. A stuff block by seniors Smith and Wiggs tilted the second stanza the Gators’ way, 25-23.
The teams battled to open the frame, tying it up at 4-4. The Gators went on an 8-1 run to lead 12-5, courtesy of smart swings off the block by Recek and Whaley and a Smith-Wiggs roof, as well as aggressive serving by Unroe. A solo stuff by Recek and ensuing kill by the Florida freshman put Florida up, 17-9, forcing a Georgia timeout. An ace by Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) put the Gators up, 20-10, and a Brauneis service stunner gave Florida a 12-point lead at 23-11. Mann put the match away for the Orange and Blue with a slam off a quick set by Brauneis, 25-14.
Florida is back in the O’Dome on Sunday afternoon, hosting the 2011 SEC Champion Tennessee Lady Vols at 2 p.m. ET. The match will air live on CSS with Bernie Guenther and former All-SEC setter Missy Whittemore on the call. Live video can be found on ESPN3 and the radio call with Tom Collett and Cory Stephens is on Country 103.7 The Gator.
“The team that has done the best job of defending is coming in on Sunday,” Wise said of Tennessee. “It will be a great match. This Tennessee team is so talented, offensively and defensively. There is a reason why they were picked to win the league.”
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