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Sunday November 4, 2012Tennessee Upsets No. 13 Florida in Five-Set Thriller

Gainesville, Fla.

Sunday afternoon will go down as one of the greatest matches in the history of the Florida-Tennessee volleyball rivalry, as the Lady Vols upset the No. 13 Gators, 2-3 (25-17, 21-25, 29-27, 23-25, 17-19), in front of 2,475 Gator faithful at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Florida’s loss is their first of the Southeastern Conference slate and the Gators’ lead in the race for the SEC title is now three matches. UF falls to 19-4 in 2012 and 13-1 in SEC play, while UT moves to 17-6 on the year and 10-4 in conference action. The margin of victory in each set was an average of 3.6 points, the smallest in the 54-match history of the series.

 

“Obviously we would have loved a different outcome but I can’t say enough about the heart our team showed in light of what we were dealing with,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Tennessee played very well; they took advantage of our unforced errors and that really was the difference. We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome; we would have loved to have won it but that was great volleyball. It was a great SEC matchup and you have to credit Tennessee for how well they played.”

 

Florida was led by freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia), who tallied her sixth career double-double with career highs in both kills (26) and digs (20), the first Gator to register 20+ kills and digs since Kisya Killingsworth recorded 23 kills and 20 digs on Sept. 17, 2006 at South Carolina. Recek added three blocks for 27.5 points on the afternoon.

 

“Živa has been more than solid for us all season,” Wise noted. “She’s one of those players that has the ability to go to another gear. Živa’s performance, she didn’t get a lot of great looks, but boy, did she work for those kills she made today.”

 

Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) registered 19 kills on a .567 hitting percentage to go along with a team-high five blocks, while seniors Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) and Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) tallied 14 kills apiece, combining for seven blocks on the afternoon. Junior Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) had a career day, dishing out an all-time career-high 67 assists, turning in her second double-double of her Gator career with 12 digs.

 

Sophomore defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) shined for the Gators on Sunday, setting a new career high with 23 digs, the first time this season and third time in her career to lead Florida in that category. Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) scooped 20 digs for her second match of the season with 20+ digs and fellow sophomore Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) registered 12 digs for her second double-digit dig performance of 2012.

 

The Gators out-hit (.223-.200), out-dug (100-90) and out-killed (78-65) the Lady Vols, but service errors and hitting errors proved to be costly for the Orange and Blue. Florida had 16 service errors on the afternoon and Tennessee stuffed 19.0 blocks, the most for a Gator opponent since the Lady Vols put up 21.0 against UF at Thompson-Boling Arena on Oct. 30, 2005.

 

Florida took the opening set, 25-17. The teams battled to open the frame, with the Gators taking a 9-4 lead behind huge Mann-Wiggs and Recek-Mann stuff blocks. Florida continued to roll using back-to-back Wiggs kills and a Tennessee hitting error to lead 12-7. Consecutive Mann kills and a well-placed swing to the back corner by Recek gave the Gators a 17-11 advantage, and the Lady Vols took timeout after an attacking error pushed the UF lead to seven, 20-13.

 

Out of the break, Tennessee strung together three straight to force a Gator timeout at 20-16. A Recek kill down the pipe ended the LV run and another kill from the Gator rookie put UF within two of the set, 23-17. Mann found the open court behind the block to set up set point for the Orange and Blue and Recek put away the set for the Gators with a smart roll shot to the left front, 25-17.

 

Despite coming back from a seven-point deficit to tie the set at 18-all, the Lady Vols won the second stanza, 25-21. Tennessee took an early 5-1 lead to open the frame but Florida battled back, using a slam through the triple block for Mann and a Mann-Brauneis roof to pull within one, down 5-6. UT went on a 3-0 run after the Gator block and took an 11-6 lead after back-to-back Lady Vol kills, forcing a Florida timeout. Wiggs slammed one off the block to pause the UT streak, 11-7, and kills by Recek and Smith cut the UT lead to three, UF down 12-9. Tennessee went on a 4-0 run to take a 16-9 lead, courtesy of kills by Robinson and a UT block.

 

The Gators didn’t let down and capitalized on UT errors to cut the Lady Vols’ lead to four after a Brauneis ace, UF down 17-13. Brauneis served up another stunner and Florida got within two after a Recek kill, UF down 17-15. Back-to-back kills by Mann tied the set at 18-all, forcing a Tennessee timeout. The Lady Vols went on a 5-2 run out of the timeout to force a Florida timeout with the Gators down 23-20, and continued the streak, taking the second set, 25-21.

 

The Gators won a crucial third frame, 29-27. Florida used Recek kills to go ahead, 2-1, in the early going, with the teams tying three times and exchanging the lead twice. The Lady Vols took as much as a three-point lead at 8-5, but the Gators stormed back, using a Whaley solo stuff to spark a 4-1 rally to lead 10-9. A Smith slam and a Recek-Smith stuff block out of the Tennessee timeout gave the Gators a 12-9 lead, and consecutive Recek kills put Florida ahead, 14-11. Slams by Mann and Wiggs gave the Orange and Blue a 17-15 advantage, and Florida won a pivotal rally to lead 19-17.

 

A Recek kill off high hands continued the Florida two-point edge, 20-18. A Wiggs-Mann stuff block and kills by rookie outsides Recek and Whaley put the Gators within two of the set, 23-20, as UT burned a timeout. The Lady Vols scored two straight out of the break to force Florida to take a timeout of their own, 23-22. A UF hitting error tied the set at 23-23 as the Gators burned their second timeout in as many points.

 

A UT service error gave the Gators set point, 24-23, but UT tied the set again, 24-24. A Smith slide kill put Florida at set point for a second time, 25-24, but the Lady Vols tied it at 25-all. A Recek kill broke two more UT ties to give the Gators their fourth set point, 27-26. Tennessee tied the set once more but kills by Mann and Wiggs tilted the set in Florida’s favor, 29-27.

 

The Lady Vols took the fourth stanza, 25-23. The teams battled to open the fourth, as Tennessee burned a timeout after a Lady Vol hitting error, 5-3. UT scored two straight out of the timeout to tie the set at 5-5 and UF took timeout after the Lady Vols gained an 8-7 lead. Tennessee took as much as a four-point lead with Florida down 12-8, but a Simone Antwi (Fairfax Station, Va.)-Brauneis stuff briefly stopped the UT run, UF down 12-9.

 

The Gators cut the UT lead to one and overpass kills by Whaley and Antwi tied the set at 19-19. Recek kills tied the frame at 20, 21 and 22, but a UT kill tilted the set towards the Lady Vols as the Gators burned a timeout, down 23-22. A Slam by Mann tied the set at 23-all but back-to-back kills by Jeter gave UT the set, 25-23.

 

Tennessee took the final frame, 19-17. The teams traded points to open the fifth and decisive frame, as consecutive kills by Recek and a slam by Wiggs gave the Gators a 3-2 advantage early in the deciding frame. UT scored two straight to force a Florida timeout with the Gators down, 6-4. Smith slammed three kills in four points to give the Gators an 8-6 lead at the changeover. A UT attacking error put Florida up by three, 9-6. Tennessee scored two straight out of the timeout to cut the Florida lead to one, 9-8, but a Smith kill halted the streak, 10-8.

 

UT stormed back to tie the set at 12-12, using a block to force a Gator timeout. A Robinson kill gave Tennessee a 13-12 advantage but Mann found a seam in the block to tie things at 13. A Robinson kill gave UT match point, 14-13, but kills out of the middle from Mann and Smith gave the Gators match point, 15-14. UT earned another match point off a UF hitting error, 17-16, but Smith earned a kill off the slide to tie things at 17-17. UT tallied a kill to set up another match point, 18-17, and a UT block ended the match, 19-17.

 

Florida hits the road next weekend to play Missouri and Ole Miss for a second time in 2012. The Gators travel to Mizzou for the first time in program history, facing off against the Tigers at the Hearnes Center on Friday evening at 8 p.m. ET. The Orange and Blue take on the Rebels in Oxford at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. The Gators swept both the Tigers and the Rebels earlier in the season.

 

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.

 

FLORIDA-TENNESSEE MATCH NOTES

·         Today's match marked the 54th meeting between the Gators and Lady Volunteers. With today's loss, Florida still holds a 42-12 edge in the series. The team is 38-7 against Tennessee under head coach Mary Wise.

·         The Gators suffered their first loss in SEC play and at the O'Connell Center this season today.

·         Florida had its streak of 21 consecutive regular season victories at the O'Connell Center snapped today with the team's setback to the Lady Volunteers. The last team to beat the Gators at home was Tennessee on October 20, 2011.

·         Recek recorded the most kills by a Gator since Jane Collymore collected 30 kills against USC on September 10, 2005, as well as her 300th kill of the season.

·         As a team, Florida had 78 kills, the most for the team in a single match for the 2012 season.

·         Four members of the Gators registered at least ten kills against the Lady Volunteers. That marked the second time this season UF had done so.

·         For the third time in 2012, a member of the Gators collected 20 kills in conference play.

·         As a team, Florida had 11 blocks. It was the most blocks for the team since they had 11.5 against Kentucky on October 7. 

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