Florida women’s teams soar and fall this weekend

Florida Gators soccer, cross country and women’s basketball were all in action this weekend coming off a Friday that saw softball, soccer and volleyball compete just one hour apart from another.

Just two days after defeating the Illinois State Redbirds in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Championship at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, OH, the Florida soccer team (16-6-2, 8-1-2 SEC) fell in a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss to the Oregon State Beavers (14-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10). Having reached the round of 16 in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the Gators’ loss was the earliest exit for the team in four years. UF had multiple opportunities to score throughout the first 90 minutes, but a ball would not see the net until a turnover in the defensive third resulted in a through ball from Oregon State’s Rachael Axon to Melinda Ingalls for the goal. The Beavers’ first overtime win of the season ended the Gators season and hopes of a title.

The No. 3 women’s cross country team, on the other hand, found success this weekend, winning the NCAA South Region Championship on Saturday morning. Earning an automatic bid to the National Championship on Nov. 23, redshirt sophomore Rebecca Lowe led the way by winning the individual title while the Gators placed five runners in the top 17 and earned six All-South Region honors. Florida won their third regional title in program history, their first in over a decade (1998).

Men’s basketball was not the only Florida team to take their shot at the Stetson Hatters on the hardwood. The women faced them first on Saturday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, earning an 85-63 win to open the season. Leading the way for the Gators were freshman forward Jennifer George and redshirt sophomore transfer guard Jordan Jones, who combined for 38 points in their first career games in the Orange and Blue. Florida shot 50 percent from the field, grabbed 14 steals and was 7-of-18 from beyond the arc. Jones also led the team in assists (5) and George helped out on the boards (5) while seniors F Sharielle Smith (9) and G Steffi Sorensen (6) led the way in rebounds. The Gators will face the No. 15/12 Florida State Seminoles on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

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Soccer moves on in NCAAs as volleyball falls

Earning a No. 3 regional seed in the 2009 NCAA Championship, the Florida Gators soccer team (16-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) took down the Illinois State Redbirds (12-7-1, 5-1 MVC) 2-0 in the first round of the tournament Friday night at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, OH. Going scoreless in the first half, the Gators turned it on after the break as sophomore Tahnai Annis and redshirt freshman McKenzie Barney scored two goals in a seven-minute span. Florida has advanced in the tournament and will face the Oregon State Beavers (13-7-1, 4-5 Pac 10) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in second round action.

Coming off an eight match streak where they swept each opponent in straight sets, the No. 10/11 Florida volleyball team (20-4, 14-3 SEC) was taken to task by the No. 19/17 LSU Tigers Friday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Tigers beat the Gators 3-1 (24-26, 25-23, 25-19, 25-17), sweeping the regular season series between the two teams. LSU’s Brittnee Cooper and Marina Skender combined for 36 of 52 kills while Florida was led by sophomore outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and her team-high 18 kills. Sophomore right-side/setter Kelly Murphy recorded her nation-leading eight triple-double of the season and the 14th of her career with 13 kills on .333 hitting with 29 assists and 15 digs. The Gators hit the road next weekend, traveling to Knoxville, TN, to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Florida swept Tennessee in straight sets on Oct. 4.

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Gators women’s sports set for big day Friday

Three University of Florida women’s sports teams are set for action on Friday, each beginning one hour after another. First up is the Florida Gators soccer team (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC), which is in Columbus, OH, for the first round of the NCAA Championship. The Gators will face the Illinois State Redbirds (12-6-1, 5-1 MVC) at 5 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The winner of the match will face the victor of the Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon State Beavers game on Sunday in second round action.

Also on the docket for Friday, the softball team (4-0) will host Chipola College in what is basically preseason action at 6 p.m. at Pressly Softball Stadium. So far this season, the Gators have played two games each against Santa Fe College and Seminole College, coming out victorious in all with an average 6.25 run margin of victory.

To close out the evening, No. 10 Florida volleyball (20-3, 14-2 SEC) will take on the Southeastern Conference West division-leading No. 19 LSU Tigers (20-5, 14-2 SEC). Since being swept 3-0 by the Tigers on Oct. 11 in Baton Rouge, LA, the Gators have been playing outstanding, scoring sweeps against eight consecutive opponents. Florida and LSU are tied for second place in the league standings with a victory Friday going a long way for the Gators. The game will air live from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 7 p.m. on SUN Sports.

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