Friday November 23, 2012No. 15 Gator Volleyball Sweeps Georgia, 3-0, in Regular Season Finale
The No. 15 Florida volleyball team (25-4, 19-1 SEC) ended the 2012 regular season on a high note, sweeping SEC rival Georgia, 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-19), on Friday evening. The Gators finished the season winning seven of their final eight matches and took the SEC title home to Gainesville with a near-perfect 19-1 conference record.
“To end the season with a win tonight, we knew we had to come in here and play our hardest,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “I can’t say enough about our fight against a tough Georgia team, who never backed down.”
Florida’s 3-0 sweep of Georgia was just the second time the Bulldogs were swept on their home floor in 2012. It marked the Gators’ 17th sweep of the season and gives Florida 25 wins for the 22nd consecutive season, all under Wise.
The Gators had three players in double-digit kills on Friday, led by the stellar play of Florida’s middles. Senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), who grew up just 60 minutes from Athens, turned in 10 kills and three blocks on the night. Fellow middle Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) tallied 10 kills and five blocks against the Bulldogs, hitting .471 on the evening.
Freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) was the third Gator in double digits, posting a match-high 12 kills against Georgia. Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out 32 assists on the night, scooping 11 digs for her third double-double as a Gator.
Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) registered 19 digs on the night, the most in a 3-set match since Elyse Cusack at Alabama on Oct. 30, 2009. Sophomore defensive specialists Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) and Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) combined for 14 digs against the Bulldogs.
Florida took the opening frame, 25-21. The teams traded points to start the match with Georgia taking a quick two-point lead after a Florida attacking error, 6-4. The Gators pushed back and tied the set at 8-all after a Brauneis solo stuff. A Recek kill through the seam of the block put the Orange and Blue ahead, 9-8, and Florida scored three straight points to force a Georgia timeout, 12-9.
Two Mann kills got the Gators to their largest lead of the set so far, 17-13, and a Recek kill on the overpass gave the Gators a 19-15 lead as the Bulldogs burned their second timeout of the set. Unroe served up an ace out of the break to put Florida up by five, 20-15. A Smith kill on the slide got the Gators within two of the set victory, 23-19, and Mann put the set away with a slam off the quick set from Brauneis, 25-21.
Back-to-back hitting errors gave Florida a two-point advantage, 4-2. A Gator attacking error tied the frame at 5-5, but UF went on a 5-1 run courtesy of back-to-back kills by Recek and a Smith slam, 10-6. A Mann-Brauneis stuff block forced a Georgia timeout, 14-10, and Mann teamed up with both Brauneis and Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.), respectively, to turn in three straight blocks and lead 16-10. Another Florida roof, this one by Wiggs and Mann, kept the Gators out in front at 18-14. The Bulldogs scored two quick points to cut the Gators’ lead to two, 18-16, forcing a Florida timeout.
The Orange and Blue scored two straight points of their own to pull back out to a four-point lead, 20-16, and Wiggs slammed one over the block to put Florida within four of the set win, 21-17. Monserez served up an ace to force Georgia to burn their second timeout at 22-17. The Bulldogs pulled within two of the Florida advantage, 23-21, forcing a Gator timeout. A Georgia attacking error gave the Gators set point and a Recek kill down the pipe put the second stanza in Florida’s hands, 25-22.
A Mann-Wiggs stuff block sparked a 4-0 scoring rally for Florida to go ahead 9-6, but Georgia pulled back within one of the Gators’ lead, 11-10. The Orange and Blue strung together two straight to pull back out to a three-point advantage, 13-10, forcing a Georgia timeout after a Brauneis-Smith roof. A Recek service ace out of the break put Florida up four, 14-10, and smart swings by middle Smith and Mann got the Gators out to a five-point lead, 16-11.
Florida won a long rally courtesy of phenomenal defense by Unroe and Pole to lead 20-15, and a Smith slide kill put the Gators ahead, 21-16. Two consecutive Recek kills gave the Gators match point and a Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.)-Smith block put the match in Florida’s hands, 25-19.
The Gators now await their NCAA fate. Florida earned the SEC’s automatic bid for the NCAA Championships with their SEC title last weekend. The NCAA Selection Show will air live on Sunday, November 25th at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
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