Dec. 3, 2010

Courtesy of Florida Athletics

The No. 1 University of Florida volleyball team hit .586, the second-highest hitting efficiency in school history and the highest in an NCAA Tournament match in school history, benefitting from a balanced team effort to defeat Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion South Carolina State, 3-0 (25-7, 25-10, 25-12) on Friday in the NCAA First Round at the Stephen C. OConnell Center.

The Gators (28-1) broke their NCAA Tournament school-record hitting efficiency mark for the third consecutive year to advance to the NCAA Second Round. Florida will take on intra-state rival Florida State at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday in the OConnell Center.

Floridas victory against South Carolina State (17-23) took 1 hour and two minutes, which tied for the second-shortest NCAA Tournament match in program history. It is second only to the Gators 55-minute postseason contest against Liberty on Dec. 2, 1999.

Floridas .586 team hitting efficiency is the second-highest hitting percentage in a single match in school history. The Gators school record for hitting percentage was a .603 clip that came against Auburn on Sept. 28, 2003. Florida hit better than .550 in a single match for just the fourth time in program history. The Gators limited the Lady Bulldogs to just a -.042 hitting efficiency, marking the second time this season Florida has held an opponent to a negative hitting efficiency.

I think that the numbers really speak for themselves, especially our hitting efficiency,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. We felt that we would have a match-up advantage because of our size. I thought that our serving just never allowed South Carolina State to get into a rhythm offensively. You could see in their athletes that they have a team full of players with really fast arms. Fortunately, we served well, and they just never got on track offensively. It was one of those good wins. You look around the country and, as we predicted, this would be a year where it would not be easy to advance. Well take this and move on and look forward to playing tomorrow night.”

Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) charted a team-high eight kills on .700 hitting with 17 assists, two service aces and four digs for a match-high 10.0 total points. Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) followed with seven kills on .375 hitting with six digs.

Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) totaled five kills on .444 hitting with five blocks, while senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) had five kills on five swings with no errors and also totaled five blocks.

Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) posted four kills on six swings with no errors for a .667 hitting efficiency with two service aces, and freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dished out 11 assists.

In the first set, the Gators raced to a 3-1 lead behind an Anderson kill and a pair of Bulldog errors. South Carolina State cut the Florida lead to one at 3-2 on a block from Jarne Gleaton and Tiffane Jackson, but the Gators came back with a 6-0 tear, highlighted by a Murphy ace and a Rivers kill, to take a commanding 9-2 lead.

Florida continued to roll, taking seven of the next nine points behind put-downs from Bledsoe, Wiggs, Murphy and Rivers to widen the advantage to 12 at 16-4. The Bulldogs fought back with kills from Shabree Roberson and Elizabeth Webb to bring the score to 18-6, but they couldnt overcome the Gators big lead. Florida went on a 6-0 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), plus two more from Stephanie Ferrell (Long Beach, Calif.) and Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), to easily wrap up the first set at 25-7.

The Gators picked up right where they left off to open the second set, powering their way to an early 9-1 lead behind a Bledsoe block and a Jaeckel ace, along with kills from Wiggs and Murphy. The Bulldogs then ran off two straight points thanks to a Desire Waller kill and Florida error to bring the score to 9-3, but Rivers quickly put an end to the run, knocking down another kill and stretching the Florida lead to seven at 10-3.

With the Gators ahead by nine at 15-6, Florida fired off five straight kills, including three from Murphy, to widen the gap to 14. Gleaton tried to stage a Bulldog rally, knocking down two more kills to bring the score to 21-8, but Florida closed out the second set at 25-10 on a block from Anderson and Ferrell.

Florida opened the third set on a 3-0 run behind kills from Jaeckel and Bledsoe, along with another Jaeckel ace. Gleaton then fired off another kill to put the Bulldogs on the board at 3-1. The Gators responded with a 5-0 tear, highlighted by an Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) ace to take a seven-point lead at 8-1. South Carolina State battled back with kills from Gleaton, Waller and Webb to bring the score to 11-4, but the Gators could not be stopped. A Murphy ace and a Wiggs and Bledsoe block widened the Florida advantage to 10 at 16-6.

Leading by 11 at 19-8, a Bledsoe kill and a Mann block stretched the Gators lead even further to 13. Waller then knocked down two straight kills to cut the deficit to 11 at 21-10, but the Gators ran off three consecutive points behind a pair of Rivers kills to give Florida their first match point at 24-10. Waller and Roberson kept the Bulldogs alive with a kill and a service ace, respectively, but Rivers wrapped up the final set and the match at 25-12 with one last kill.

Waller led South Carolina State with eight kills, while Gleaton added six.