Saturday December 1, 2012Sweet Sweep! No. 14 Seed Florida Volleyball Earns Sweet 16 Berth with 3-0 Sweep of Cougars
The 14th-seeded Florida volleyball team (27-4, 19-1 SEC) swept the College of Charleston Cougars (27-8, 14-2 SoCon) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday, sending the Gators to their 21st Sweet 16 in 22 seasons under Florida head coach Mary Wise. The 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-14) victory was Florida’s 19th sweep of the season.
“With the quick turnaround from last night’s match to tonight’s match and (with) College of Charleston playing at such a high level, I think a lot of the credit goes to (associate head coach) Dave Boos and the work he did overnight to prepare the video, the game plan and without exception in each area of their offense,” Wise said. “What we had seen on video was what we worked on briefly. It was the right time to play them because they run such a varied offense. Right now, our defensive volleyball IQ has risen to the point where we did a pretty good job tonight against a very offensive team.”
The Gators will face No. 3 seed Texas Longhorns (25-4, 15-1 Big 12) at Gregory Gymnasium on the campus of University of Texas, Austin. The regional semifinal match is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Friday, December 7. The winner advances to the regional final against either No. 6 seed USC or Wichita State at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 8.
The Orange and Blue were sparked by SEC Player of the Year Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), who tallied 10 kills on 13 swings for a .615 hitting percentage, her 15th match of the year hitting above .500. Mann is now hitting .442 on the season and leads the Gators in blocks with 1.16 blocks/set, including four tonight.
Senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) stuffed a season-high seven blocks against the Cougars, contributing to the Gators’ 9.0 team blocks while adding five kills on the evening. Junior Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out 29 assists on the evening in addition to two service aces.
Florida hit .315 against Charleston, the 19th match this season where the Gators have operated at a .300+ hitting clip.
“I think most of the praise goes to Taylor Brauneis and the fact that she is able to distribute the ball so well and get players good, open looks,” Mann said. “It also starts from the passers getting get good passes. We’re just working well as a team right now and hopefully that will continue for us.”
Senior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) posted eight kills and four blocks against Charleston, while freshman outside hitter Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) registered five errorless kills on the evening. SEC Freshman of the Year Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) served up a match-high four aces, adding to the Gators’ eight aces on the night, the most in an NCAA Tournament match since a three-set sweep of BYU (12/10/99).
The College of Charleston was held to a .079 hitting percentage, becoming the 21st Florida opponent to hit less than .200 this year. The Gators are undefeated (21-0) in those matches and have held their opponents to a .091 offensive efficiency so far in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
While the Gators’ block was active on Saturday, the Florida back row defense was just as successful. Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) recorded 13 digs on the night and sophomore defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) turned in eight.
The Cougars’ key cog, Darcy Dorton, was limited to just four kills and a block against the Orange and Blue, tallying a -.192 hitting percentage. Right-side hitter Sloane White was the lone Cougar in double figures with 11 kills, while senior libero Emily Shelton scooped a match-high 15 digs.
An Unroe ace gave the Gators an early 2-1 lead in the opening frame and the teams traded sideouts to open the match. Recek slammed home a long rally to go ahead 8-7, and a Brauneis service ace gave the Gators their largest lead of the set thus far, 10-7. The Gators regained their three-point advantage after a Smith overpass slam and a Cougar blocking error, 14-11.
A Mann-Wiggs stuff block forced a Cougar timeout at 19-15 and another Gator block courtesy of Smith and Wiggs forced a second Charleston timeout, 21-17. The senior duo of Smith and Wiggs teamed up for another roof out of the timeout to put Florida within three of the set victory, 22-17. Recek put the set away with a service ace to put the Gators two sets away from the Sweet 16, 25-20.
Florida hit .357 in the second stanza, A Wiggs ended a long rally early in the set to go ahead, 2-1. A Recek service ace extended the Florida advantage to two, 4-2, while a Monserez stick save kept another long rally alive, as the Gators went ahead 7-3 with an ensuing Recek backrow kill. A Mann-Wiggs stuff block put the Orange and Blue out in front, 9-4, and the Gators took a 10-4 lead into the first Cougar timeout.
A Recek kill off high hands, courtesy of a Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) bump-set, gave the Gators a 13-6 advantage. A Mann-Wiggs stuff block put Florida ahead, 19-11, and a roof by Smith and Wiggs got the Gators over the double-decade mark, 21-12. A dumped kill by Brauneis edged the Orange and Blue within two of the set win, 23-14, and back-to-back Cougar attacking errors tilted the frame in Florida’s favor, 25-16.
Brauneis started the set off with a service ace and a solo stuff by Mallette and a Mann-Wiggs roof gave the Gators a 3-1 advantage. A Monserez service ace put Florida ahead, 7-4, and a Smith slam off the slide gave the Orange and Blue a 9-5 lead. A Brauneis dumped kill and ensuing Mann kill put the Gators up 13-7. An overpass kill by Recek and Mann slam put the Gators ahead, 17-9. Back-to-back Recek aces gave the Gators a 23-12 lead and Smith put the match away with a kill off the slide to send the Gators to Austin, 25-14.
All regional matches are broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. The regional semifinal matches will all air live on ESPN3 and the regional finals will be live on ESPNU. The Austin Regional will feature No. 3 seed Texas, No. 6 seed USC, No. 14 seed Florida and Wichita State, and all three matches will be called by play-by-play analyst Adam Amin and color commentator Maria Taylor.
“When you get into the top 16 teams based on the tournament schedule, everyone is big at this point. Everyone is very experienced; all are great teams and very well coached, Wiggs said. “Luckily, we’ve had the opportunity to play Texas earlier in the season back in August, early September.
“However, both of us have changed very much,” Wiggs continued. “Texas has improved in many ways as have we. It’s something we know is an advantage having seen each other play, but at the same time, we just use that as information to propel ourselves forward and take into account some things we’ve seen Texas do when we played them.”
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· With tonight's win, Florida advanced to the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. This marks the program's 21st appearance in the regional semifinals, all in the past 22 seasons. In addition, the Gators extended their streak to eight-consecutive appearances in the regional semifinals.
· With the win against the College of Charleston, Florida improved its record to 45-6 in the NCAA Tournament when playing in Gainesville.
· For the first time since the 2009 NCAA Tournament, the Gators swept their first two opponents. UF defeated the College of Charleston in the NCAA First Round in 2009 before defeating FIU, 3-0.
· Tonight's match marked the third time Florida and the College of Charleston have met, with all three meetings being played in the NCAA Tournament at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators improved their record to 3-0 against the Cougars.
· For the fourth-straight match the University of Florida volleyball team won the first set.
· For the first time since the Georgia match on Nov. 2, freshman Živa Recek did not lead the team in kills. Senior Chloe Mann led the Gators with 10 kills on the night.
· Mann was hitting at a clip of .615, her best hitting percentage since the Georgia match on Nov. 2.
· Florida will play third-seeded Texas in the regional semifinals. The Gators and Longhorns faced off earlier in the season, Texas swept the Gators at the Nike Big Four Classic in University Park, Pa. UF is attempting to break a two-match losing streak against Texas in the NCAA Tournament. The last time Florida defeated the Longhorns in the NCAA Tournament was in 1994.