Friday November 30, 2012No. 14 Seed Florida Volleyball Sweeps Tulsa in NCAA First Round
The No. 14 seed Florida volleyball team (26-4) opened the NCAA First Round with a 3-0 sweep (25-9, 25-21, 25-21) of Tulsa (26-10) on Friday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. With the win, the Gators face the winner of the first match of the Gainesville Sub-Regional, College of Charleston (27-7), who earned a victory with a 3-2 thriller over Miami (FL).
Senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) and junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) were stellar on the night, sparking the Gators’ offense with .667 (8-0-12) and .500 (10-2-16) hitting efficiencies, respectively. Mann stuffed six blocks on the evening to lead all players on the court and out-block the Golden Hurricane as a team.
“I’ve always said our success is from great passing and great setting,” Wiggs said. “Taylor Brauneis is a setter we’re so blessed to have on our team. She does such a great job distributing the ball and making sure each person gets the best looks possible. Our passers did a great job today as well.”
“In set one, we kind of got out of the gate pretty fast. We knew the (first set) numbers of Tyler Henderson were not indicative of her talent,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We blocked well and had every break go our way during set one. In sets two and three, we saw the Tulsa team that we watched on video, a Tulsa team that has been so good for the past three NCAA tournaments. With Tyler’s heavy arm and contact point, we were impressed with how she responded after the first set.”
Henderson, the NCAA’s all-time leader in kills, was held kill-less in the first frame, hitting -.571 with four errors. She quickly turned it around, posting 17 kills on a .257 hitting percentage with eight errors. No other TU hitter tallied more than six kills.
Sophomore defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) led the way defensively for the Orange and Blue with a match-high 16 digs on the night, turning in one of the best matches of her career both defensively and on serve receive.
“On our side, one of the biggest difference makers was the play of Maddy,” Wise said. “She led us in digs and was all over the court. She provided a lot of inspiration to our entire team. She does it every day in practice, but to do it in the NCAA Tournament is pretty cool to see.”
Two Gators were on the verge of double-doubles, as freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) tallied 13 kills and nine digs. Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out 38 assists and registered eight digs against TU, turning in two aces on the evening. Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) scooped 13 digs on the night
The Gators jumped out to an early 9-1 lead in the opening frame, using three straight Tulsa attacking errors and a back-to-back Recek kills to build a significant advantage. Florida won the first long rally of the match, utilizing Monserez’s speed and tenacity to spark the Gators to a 12-6 lead. Back-to-back Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) aces forced a Tulsa timeout at 16-8, and back-to-back Gator blocks sparked a 7-1 rally, ending the set on a roof by Mann and Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.), 25-9. Florida put up 5.0 team blocks in the opening stanza, holding the Golden Hurricane to a -.250 offensive clip.
In the second stanza, a smart tip by Wiggs and two slams by Mann put Florida ahead, 3-1. A Brauneis ace trickled over the tape to get the Gators to the double-digit mark, 10-8. A well-placed tip by Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) gave the Gators a four-point lead, 17-13, and a Brauneis-Smith stuff block forced a Tulsa timeout as Florida went up, 18-13. A Mallette crosscourt slam put the Gators at the double-decade mark, 20-14. The Golden Hurricane inched within four, 23-19, but Recek nailed one off the block to set up set point for Florida, 24-19. A Wiggs smash out of the middle tilted the second stanza in the Gators’ favor, 25-21.
The Gators started the third frame off strong with a Brauneis-Mann roof, aided by the stellar defensive efforts of Monserez. A Smith slam off the slide gave the Gators a two-point advantage, 7-5, and an Unroe ace kept the lead at two, 13-11. A Brauneis dumped kill put Florida up by four, 16-12, for its largest lead of the set. A Mallette mash through the seam of the TU block kept the four-point advantage, 18-14, but TU cut the Florida lead to one with a quick 3-0 run, forcing a Florida timeout at 18-17. Mann slammed a quick set from Brauneis out of the middle to curtail the TU streak, 19-17, and a Brauneis ace got the Gators to the double-decade mark at 20-17. Recek slammed one to end a long rally and get the Gators to match point, 24-20, forcing a TU timeout. Recek put the match away with a hard crosscourt slam, 25-21.
NCAA Gainesville Sub-Regional tickets are now on sale. General admission all-session passes are available for $10 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens. Youth tickets are available for $4. Fans can purchase tickets by phone at (800) 34-GATOR, ext. 6800 or online at GatorZone.com/tickets. Only all-session passes will be available at that time. Single-session tickets will be available only on the day of the event.
All information on NCAA Volleyball Gainesville Sub-Regional can be found at the GatorZone NCAA Tournament Central.
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.