Florida advances to Sweet 16 after five-set thriller

Unlike many of their previous matches this season, defeating the Florida State Seminoles (22-11) was not easy for No. 1 Florida Gators volleyball (29-1). Nevertheless the Lady Gators rallied together on Saturday night to pull off a come-from-behind five-set victory 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 17-15) over the Seminoles in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Championships at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

With the win, Florida advances to the Sweet 16 in Austin, TX, where they will face head coach Mary Wise‘s alma mater Purdue.

Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy led the way for UF with a team-high 19 kills, 21 assists and 12 digs for yet another triple-double. Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel complimented her with 18 kills and 12 digs, and senior OH Callie Rivers added eight kills and 18 digs. All over the place Saturday was senior libero Erin Fleming, who notched a team-high 20 digs while nailing two service aces. Senior middle-back Lauren Bledsoe contributed 13 kills and posted a team-high .391 attacking percentage.

During the match Murphy registered her 1,000th career kill, becoming the 17th player in school history to reach that milestone.

Trailing two sets to one, Florida rebounded in the fourth and squeaked out a 25-21 win. They would also trail 11-7 in the fifth and final set, a deficit seemingly insurmountable considering it only takes 15 points to win the tiebreaker. Fighting to even things up, the Gators found themselves down 13-11 after Rivers nailed a service ace.

The officials believed UF touched the ball four times on the next point and whistled them for illegal contact, giving FSU a temporary 14-11 lead before they decided to negate the call and play the point over. Florida would go on to tie the set at 13 and eventually win it outright after Jaeckel hit consecutive kills to end the final set 17-15.

The Gators achieved double-digit kills in each set and out-blocked the Seminoles 16.5-10.0. Florida State put forth a superb effort in their upset bid, but Florida was able to overcome some costly errors and mistakes by the officials to win their 29th match of the season and advance in their quest for a National Championship.

Before having to contend with FSU, Florida defeated the South Carolina State Bulldogs (17-23) with a clean 3-0 sweep (25-7, 25-10, 25-12) on Friday evening in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Gators posted an impressive .586 hitting efficiency as Murphy registered eight kills, 17 assists, two service aces and four digs. Rivers had seven kills and six digs, Bledsoe notched five kills and five blocks, and Jaekel added four kills and two aces.

Florida and Purdue will square off in the Austin Regional on Friday, Dec. 10. at a time yet to be determined. The winner will face either Illinois or Texas in the Elite Eight.

HIGHLIGHTS / END OF MATCH

POST-GAME QUOTES (After the break…)
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SIX BITS: soccer-NCAA, volleyball-SEC, Whitson

1 » Opening up the 2010 NCAA Tournament at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on Friday, No. 5 Florida Gators soccer (19-2-2, 9-1-1 SEC) scorched the Mercer Bears (10-9-1, 7-3 A-Sun) 3-0. Redshirt sophomore midfielder McKenzie Barney (15’, 73’) and junior MF/forward Tahnai Annis (48’) scored Florida’s three goals as the Gators out-shot the Bears 16-7. Unfortunately…

2 » Florida was not so fortunate in second-round action, taking the Duke Blue Devils (11-7-4, 7-3 ACC) into penalty kicks after the teams were held scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. In PKs, the Gators (19-2-3, 9-1-1 Sec) fell to the Blue Devils 4-2. Duke made all of its attempts while Florida only received goals from Barney and redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine with Annis’ saved and junior F Lindsay Thompson’s attempt going wide. The Gators end the 2010 season having won both the Southeastern Conference Championship and regular season title.

3 » In better news for the University of Florida, the No. 1 Florida volleyball team (24-1, 17-0 SEC) clinched at least a share of the 2010 SEC regular season title on Sunday by defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide (10-17, 2-15 SEC) 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-17) on Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was impressive once again, leading the Gators with 10 kills and no errors along with 15 assists and seven digs. She notched her 12th-straight double-double and has been having an impressive season. Florida’s seniors also got in on the action with OH Callie Rivers, middle-back Lauren Bledsoe and libero Erin Fleming combining for 18 kills, 15 digs and six blocks on Sunday. UF has three more regular season matches – all on the road – before the 2010 SEC Tournament begins.

Three more BITS including an interesting piece on a Florida baseball commit…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: soccer-NCAA, volleyball-SEC, Whitson

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