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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Basketball wins, four athletes take SEC honors

The University of Florida‘s men’s basketball team began their 2009-10 season Monday night, defeating Saint Leo 95-46 in an exhibition game at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Gators freshman guard Kenny Boynton led the team with 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting while going 5/9 from three-point range. Boynton also contributed six rebounds, two assists and three steals and appeared to tweak his knee at some point in the second half. The extent of the injury is not known, though it did not look serious to those in attendance and it is believed he will be fine to play in Florida’s next exhibition game.

Junior forward Alex Tyus recorded a team-high nine rebounds and added 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while sophomore point guard Erving Walker was good for 16 points and led the way with nine assists. Redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin grabbed four rebounds and seven points. Also of note is that Israeli freshman PG Nimrod Tishman wants to be known as “Rod” (good choice) during his Gators career.

Football’s sophmore kicker Caleb Sturgis, volleyball’s senior libero Elyse Cusack and soccer players Lauren Hyde and McKenzie Barney all took home individual awards from the Southeastern Conference on Monday. Sturgis was named Special Teams Player of the Week, Cusack and Hyde both earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for their respective sports and Barney won Freshman of the Week. Sturgis kicked a 56-yard and 44-yard field goal in the Gators win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

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Florida soccer shuts out South Carolina, wins SEC

No. 10 Florida Gators soccer (14-4-2, 8-1-2 SEC) shut out division rival No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks (15-3-1, 7-3-1 SEC) 3-0 Friday night at James G. Pressly Stadium to win the Southeastern Conference regular season title. The win came off a tenacious performance by the ladies in front of an excited home crowd in Gainesville, FL, and marks the Gators’ 10th SEC title in the sport.

Redshirt freshman midfielder/defender McKenzie Barney scored at 19′ to give Florida an early lead and followed up her goal with another at 24′ to put the Gators up 2-0 at the end of the first half. Florida rode Barney’s two goals and played stifling defense in the second half, adding an insurance goal by freshman midfielder Holly King who put the match out of reach at 87′.

The Gators are now off until Nov. 4 when they travel to Orange Beach, AL, for the SEC Championship tournament where they will certainly be the No. 1 overall seed.

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