|Alabama 3, Holy Cross 0
|Northeastern 3, Alabama 2
|South Carolina 3, Temple 0
|South Carolina 3, Akron 0
|Texas A&M 3, Texas State 0
|USC 3, Texas A&M 1
|Auburn 3, Central Michigan 2
|Arkansas 3, UT-Martin 0
|Kentucky 3, North Carolina 0
|Florida State 3, Tennessee 0
|Mississippi State 3, Jackson State 0
|Texas 3, LSU 0
|Missouri 3, North Florida 0
|Missouri 3, Virginia Tech 1
|Georgia 3, Georgia Southern 1
|Miami 3, Ole Miss 2
|Florida 3, Florida International 0
Alabama Volleyball Takes Down Holy Cross in Three Sets
Worcester, Mass. - The Alabama volleyball team posted a three-set victory over Holy Cross in the Beanpot Classic to open the 2012 season. The Crimson Tide used scores of 25-20, 25-15, and 25-16 to put the Crusaders away 3-0 in the first match of the tournament. Alabama was led by senior Kayla Fitterer, who had a team-high 10 kills in the match.
“We’re really pleased with how some of our younger players performed in their first match,” second-year head coach Ed Allen said. “Our ball control was consistent and gave us opportunities. I was disappointed with our start and the number of errors we had in our attack, but we settled down after the first set, and committed half the number of errors in the last two sets. Overall we’re pleased with getting the first match out of the way and getting some experience for our younger players.”
Fitterer fell one kill shy of 1,000 for her career, as the 10 kills give her 999 for her career. Fitterer did not start for the Tide, but came off the bench to post a .259 hitting percentage with two block assists. In her Crimson Tide debut, Pricilla Duke-Ezeji tallied nine kills and a .316 hitting percentage.
Freshman Sierra Wilson was the first freshmen to start at setter since 2004 and played well in her first match at Alabama. Wilson had 32 assists, nine digs, four kills and three blocks in her Crimson Tide debut.
“I think Sierra did a great job and running the offense and was very poised as a freshman,” Allen said. “She did a nice job reading the defense and recognized that she had some opportunities and took and advantage of them. The ball she delivered was consistent, but we expect her to improve just like any other player. She also did a great just at the service line. I don’t think we could ask her to play much better in her first collegiate match.”
Andrea McQuaid filled the stat sheet with eight kills, 11 digs, two aces two assists and one block. Yukie Futami led the Tide with a match-high 13 digs and Leigh Moyer finished the day with a .500 hitting percentage (5-1/8), four digs and three block assists.
With the score tied 18-18 in the first set, Moyer helped the Tide open a comfortable lead, serving five straight points to give the Alabama some breathing room at 23-18, as UA closed out the set with a 7-2 run.
“It warm and the climate is such, that when you play two matches in one day you don’t want to go further than you have to” Allen said. “Holy Cross is a team that played with a lot of effort and showed up to compete with us. We’re looking for more consistency in our attack, but that will develop as players become more familiar. It’s expected when you have a young setter and people are adjusting to the type of ball she delivers. We’re asking a lot of those kids to be able to gel right away.”
After Holy Cross opened a 3-1 lead in the second set, Alabama answered with an 8-2 run to open a 9-5 advantage following back-to-back kills by Duke-Ezeji. UA’s lead was 23-15 before the Tide scored the final two points of the set on kills by Katherine White and McQuaid to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, Holy Cross held a 2-1 lead, but Alabama quickly recovered to hold a 10-5 advantage following a pair of Crusaders’ errors. Alabama’s lead reached as many as 12 points (23-11), before HC ran off five points to cut the deficit to 23-16. A kill by UA’s Kanesha Burch and an ace by Kryssi Daniels ended the match with a 25-16 third set victory.
Alabama will take on Northestern in its second match of the Beanpot Classic at 3 p.m. CT on Friday afternoon from the Holy Cross Field House. The audio broadcast of the match will be available for free on RollTide.com.
Alabama Volleyball Falls in Five to Northeastern in Beanpot Classic
Worcester, Mass. – The Alabama volleyball team lost a tightly contested match to the Northeastern Huskies, 3-2, in the second match of the Beanpot Classic. The individual set scores were 17-25, 25-18, 24-26, 28-30 and 13-15. With the loss, the Crimson Tide falls to 1-1 on the season and in the tournament, while the Huskies are now 1-0.
Andrea McQuaid had the best hitting night for Alabama, posting a .433 hitting percentage on 14 kills with one error on 30 attempts. McQuaid posted her first double-double of the season, and 16th of her career with 17 digs.
Kayla Fitterer became the 13th player in school history to reach the 1,000-kill plateau, when she recorded her first kill of the match. Fitterer finished the night with 16 kills and now ranks 12th in school history in kills with 1,015 for her career, as she passed Erin Price (1,014).
Junior libero Yukie Futami posted a match-high 29 digs, while freshman setter Sierra Wilson recorded a double-double with 56 assists and 15 digs, while adding three services aces. As a team, Alabama had nine aces in the match as Kryssi Daniels and McQuaid added three and two respectively.
Pricilla Duke-Ezeji had a match-high 22 kills, but only hit .066 as she finished the night with 18 hitting errors. The Tide was finished the match with a team hitting percentage of .138, as Northeastern posted 15 kills. The Huskies had a .187 hitting percentage.
UA got off to a tough start, dropping the first set 25-17. In the opening set, the Tide trailed 10-3 before chipping away at the Huskies lead to get as close at 17-19 following kill by Duke-Ezeji. From there, the Huskies rolled off six straight points to take a 1-0 lead in the match. The Tide hit .000 in the first set as a team.
The Tide improved their hitting numbers in the second set, posting a .228 mark en route to a 25-18 victory in the set. Leading the way was Duke-Ezeji, as she had seven kills in the set with one error on 15 swings for a .400 hitting mark. Fitterer also added five kills in the set with a .273 mark after hitting -.333 on the opening frame.
In the third set, Alabama held a 23-20 lead, and had set point at 24-22, but the Huskies rallied to win four straight points to take the set 26-24.
Trailing 2-1 in the match, Alabama grinded out a 30-28 win in the fourth set. With the Tide leading 20-16, Northeastern went on a 7-2 run to take a 23-22 lead. The teams traded points until a kill by Duke-Ezeji and a block by Duke-Ezeji and Katherine White ended the set.
In the fifth and decisive set, Alabama led 7-5 before the Huskies used a 9-3 run to open a 14-10 advantage. The Tide rallied to get within one at 14-13, but NU’s Kelly Bacon ended the match with her eighth kills of the night.
Alabama wraps up the Beanpot Classic on Saturday with a 1 p.m. CST, match against the Sacred Heart Pioneers. The match will be played at Soloman Court on the Northeastern campus in Boston. The audio broadcast of the match will be available for free on RollTide.com.
Gamecocks Look Strong in Sweep of Temple
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Behind junior Juliette Thévenin's 12 kills, South Carolina won its opening match of the 2012 schedule against Temple 25-14, 25-15, 25-18, at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
Thévenin hit .435 on the match, adding four digs. Senior setter Taylor Bruns added a double-double with 17 assists and 10 digs. Redshirt freshman Christina Vereb, in her first match for South Carolina, added seven kills, with redshirt sophomore Cara Howley contributing five and four blocks. Freshmen Jenna Allen and Darian Dozier both recorded four block assists, who along with Vereb and fellow true freshman Maddie Frome made their debut in the Garnet and Black in the match. Junior libero Paige Wheeler tied for match-high honors with 12 digs.
Temple libero Chelsea Tupuola had 12 digs to lead the Owls. Gabriella Matautia had 10 kills and seven digs. Jennifer Iacobini had four block assists.
The Gamecocks used an early 3-0 lead to take an advantage in the first set, one they would not relinquish. A five-point run behind kills from Howley and sophomore Bethanie Thomas stretched the lead to 17-9. Temple scored a three-point run, but South Carolina answered with an 8-2 skein to claim the set, 25-14. Thévenin had seven kills in the frame.
Temple held a 9-6 lead before South Carolina stormed back to claim the set 25-15. A 7-1 stretch gave South Carolina the lead, with both Bruns and Howley getting aces in the run. Temple knotted things at 14-14, but South Carolina took 11 of the final 12 points, including 10 straight to get to set point. Vereb had three kills in the run, including the set clincher, with Thomas and Howley posting consecutive solo blocks at one point. Bruns had seven digs and a kill in the second, while the team posted five blocks in the frame.
Two four-point runs put South Carolina to a big lead in the third, and the team won the third 25-18. The Gamecocks hit .417 in the frame, led by Thévenin's four kills on four swings. Three other Gamecocks, including Frome had two kills each.
The Gamecocks won the blocking battle, 11-4, the first time the team has had double-digit blocks since Nov. 11, 2010, showing the improved athleticism head coach Scott Swanson has talked about all offseason. The Gamecocks also won every other statistical battle, most notably hitting .354 while holding the Owls to a .100 mark.
South Carolina takes on Akron at 8 p.m in the final Friday match of the 2012 Gamecock Invitational presented by Courtyard Marriott.
Gamecocks Fire Past Akron in Three-Set Sweep
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind the one-two punch of outside hitters Juliette Thévenin and Bethanie Thomas, South Carolina (2-0) hit .382 and raced past Akron (1-1) in three sets, 25-19, 25-13, 25-19, in front of 502 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
Thévenin led all attackers with 10 kills while adding seven digs on the night. Thomas posted nine kills without an attacking error to go with 12 digs, two block assists and two aces. Junior libero Paige Wheeler led all players with 17 digs. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley hit .636 with seven kills and two block assists.
Tina Dimitrijevs led the Zips with eight kills and three blocks. Jill Paluch added 13 digs.
South Carolina claimed the first set 25-19, hitting .423 in the frame. Getting out to a 9-3 lead, the Gamecocks had two kills from Thomas and a kill and an ace from Thévenin. After kills from redshirt freshman Christina Vereb and Howley, the Zips called time down 16-10. Akron had one three-point run, with one coming on Chelsea Harvey’s ace, before the Gamecocks closed the set on junior Megan Kent’s overpass finish and Thomas’s deep shot. The Gamecocks hit .423 in the first set.
The second proved to be about South Carolina’s defense, as the Gamecocks took the set 25-13. Wheeler had nine of her digs in the frame, helping to keep Akron’s hitting percentage to .025. An 18-6 stretch broke it open, and Thomas finished the frame with her second powerful kill in four points. She had four kills, six digs and two block assists in the frame.
Both teams cranked up the offense in the third set, with the Gamecocks taking the frame 25-19. South Carolina kept Akron from getting consecutive points on only two occasions. Thévenin’s fifth kill of the set proved to be the penultimate point, as an Akron error closed the frame. Both teams hit .333 in the frame, with the Gamecocks posting two more kills and two aces more than the Zips.
The Gamecocks won most statistical battles, only tying in blocks and assists.
The Gamecock Invitational presented by Courtyard Marriott concludes on Saturday with five more matches. The Gamecocks compete at 3 p.m. against East Tennessee State and at 8 p.m. versus UNC Asheville.
Corbelli Gets No. 500 as A&M Wins Season Opener
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M got a momentous victory in its season opener as the Aggies defeated Texas State, 25-16, 25-15, 25-16, at the Texas A&M Invitational today at Reed Arena. The victory marked the 500th win for A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli, as well as her 400th victory as head coach of the Aggies.
“It means I’ve been coaching a really long time,” Corbelli said when asked about the landmark victory. “I don’t know when it will sink in. I just take them like it is another 100, or section of 100, because it’s just my life and that’s all I do and after 27 years, I knew that I’d get to 500 somehow, someway, somewhere and it’s here.
“I’m really proud and excited,” added Corbelli who entered her 20th season as head coach at A&M. “And it was really meaningful for the team to come and jump on me, just because I’m kind of the bad guy a lot of times. I have to lay down the law. I know that they appreciate me, but it really is fun to have them pile on. It was really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever had a team do that before. I’ll never forget that.”
Senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller, who tied a career-high with a .611 hitting efficiency after tying for the team lead with 11 kills along with no errors in 18 attempts, also commented on the meaningful win.
“It was really exciting knowing that Laurie had a chance for win No. 500 today,” Miller said, “and it’s cool in this program because all of us playing wanted to give that to Laurie. We wanted to be the group that was there when she accomplished that, so it was definitely a big deal for all of us.”
The teams were tied at 7-7 in the opening set before A&M went on a 9-1 run to build a commanding lead. The Bobcats later used a three-point run to get within 22-16 before senior opposite Alisia Kastmo had back-to-back kills. Miller and junior outside hitter Heather Reynolds, who drew the first start of her career, then teamed for the set-winning point.
A&M jumped on the Bobcats for six points to begin the set and continued to extend its lead to 10-1. The Aggies went on to build their biggest lead at 20-9 following a five-point rally sparked by two aces by senior libero Megan Pendergast.
Junior setter Mariah Agre, who made her A&M debut late in the frame, set Miller up for the kill that put the Aggies at set point, 24-13. Texas State staved off two set points before Agre and Miller connected again, and the senior captain put down her fifth kill of the set.
A&M, which outhit Texas State .333 to .233 in the first set, held the Bobcats to a .000 hitting efficiency in the second set en route to the 25-15 win.
The teams were tied a 5-all in the third set when a kill by senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger marked the start of a 6-0 run by the Aggies. Kastmo had three kills and a block during the run.
Leading 12-8, the Aggies used 6-1 run, which began with freshman middle blocker Shelby Sullivan notching the first kill of her A&M career. With the Aggies holding a comfortable 18-9 lead, Corbelli inserted freshmen outside hitters Angela Lowak and Sierra Patrick for the first time.
Lowak later posted her third kill of the set to put the Aggies at match point. The normally raucous crowd then was totally silent in anticipation as Agre went to serve. The celebration quickly ensued as Texas State committed an error to give the Aggies the match-clinch point.
“(We are) excited to get our first win of the season and kick it off with a solid performance,” said Corbelli, who was also coaching the 800th match of her 27-year head coaching career. “It’s nice to have a lot of returners with experience. They showed that, especially in the first set and second set. We didn’t have a lot of fluctuations in our play and our execution in our court presence, and that was really nice to see. We played together as a unit, and that allowed me to get some new players in a little bit of set 2 and set 3. Just getting kids on the court and in front of the 12th Man, in a game situation, kids that really are the future of Aggie volleyball, I’ve really wanted to get them out there if at all possible, and I was able to do that. So that was good.”
Kastmo tied Miller for team-high honors with 11 kills and hit at a .400 clip as A&M outhit the Bobcats, .297 to .127. Pendergast led in digs with 13 and Reynolds also reached double figures with 10 digs. Miller led all players with five blocks. Junior setter Allie Sawatzky finished with 26 assists.
Alexandra Simms led the Bobcats with 13 kills and Caleigh McCorguodale had a team-leading 12 digs.
A&M returns to the court tonight at 7:30 p.m. to take on No. 5 USC, coach by former long-time Texas coach Mick Haley. Earlier today No. 5 USC defeated a pesky North Dakota team, 25-20, 25-23, 25-21.
Aggies Fall to No. 5 USC, 3-1
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M used a late rally to win the first set against No. 5 Southern California, but the Women of Troy jumped out to an early lead in the second set and rode the momentum to a 26-28, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20 victory over the Aggies tonight at Reed Arena.
"Obviously it's not fun losing, and it's not fun to have the severe highs and lows that we had tonight," A&M head coach Laurie Corbelli said. "However, I take from this that we do some really good things. We just need to do them more consistently. We need to be more resilient when an opponent is able to find a way to get us out of what we like to do and we just didn't respond like I thought we would. But it's not a bad thing to have a loss to a team of that caliber, and I think we're in a good place. I think the players learned a lot about themselves, a lot about this level of competition."
Feeding off the energy of the boisterous home crowd of 2,680, A&M built its largest lead of the opening set at 10-6. The set, however, would turn into a back-and-forth affair with 13 ties and 10 lead changes. USC chipped away at A&M's lead and used a four-point rally to take its first lead at 18-17 following a kill by Austin Westlake product Sara Shaw. A&M's Alisia Kastmo countered with a kill to even the score and Shaw hit long, returning the lead to the Aggies. A&M then committed back-to-back errors, but another kill by Kastmo and a block by Lindsey Miller and Heather Reynolds put the Aggies up, 22-21.
USC then reeled off three consecutive points and were serving for the set, but Reynolds kept the Aggies alive with a kill. USC then twice hit out of bounds to put A&M serving for the set, 25-24. USC would get a kill to tie the score, and A&M hit wide on the ensuing play to put the Trojans up, 26-25. Miller and setter Allie Sawatzky tied the score once again with a block, and Tori Mellinger put down a kill to put A&M ahead, 27-26. USC then hit into the net to give the Aggies the 1-0 lead in the match.
The momentum quickly shifted in the second set as USC immediately surged to a 7-0 lead. A&M twice got within two points, the last at 12-10, before USC reeled off eight unanswered points to build a commanding 20-10 lead. The Trojans, who hit .444 while holding A&M to a .000 hitting efficiency, later clinched the winning point with a block, evening the match at a set apiece.
The third set got off to an unusual start when three points into the set, it was discovered that an A&M player had changed jerseys but failed to report that she was wearing a different number. Because of the violation of having an incorrect number listed on the lineup card, A&M had both of its points removed and USC was awarded a point to go up 2-0. The Trojans would lead the remainder of the set as the Aggies were unable to find a consistent rhythm and were outhit, .147 to -.028, in the frame.
A&M held a 12-9 lead in the fourth set before USC outscored the Aggies, 6-1, to take a 15-13 lead. A USC attack error and an ace by Kastmo evened the score at 15, but Shaw got three consecutive kills, two courtesy of errant overpasses by the Aggies, to go up 18-15. A&M got within a point at 18-17 when USC rallied again and went on a 6-1 run and was serving for the match. A service error followed by a kill by Kastmo kept A&M alive and put the Aggies within 24-20 before Shaw clinched the victory with her 11th kill of the match.
Four Trojans posted double figures in kills, with Samantha Bricio posting a team-leading 14 kills. Katie Fuller added 13, and Alexis Olgard added 11. All-American libero Natalie Hagglund had a match-high 23 digs, and Natasa Siljkovic had nine blocks as the Trojans outblocked A&M, 11-5, and outhit the Aggies, .247 to .122 for the match.
Miller led A&M with 14 kills while hitting at a .393 clip. She also had a team-high four blocks. Libero Megan Pendergast led A&M with 21 digs, and Mellinger added 14. Sawatzky finished with 34 assists.
The Aggies (1-1) conclude the Texas A&M Invitational Saturday at 12:30 as they take on North Dakota (1-1), a team that put up a good fight in a 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 loss to the Trojans earlier in the day.
Auburn Wins Season Opener Over Central Michigan, 3-2
GREEN BAY, Wis. – A wild season-opening match went Auburn’s way as the Tiger volleyball team rallied from an early deficit to claim a 3-2 victory (17-25, 25-16, 30-28, 16-25, 15-9) Friday afternoon over Central Michigan in the opening match of the Green Bay/Country Inn & Suites Tournament.
The Tigers (1-0) were bested in nearly every statistical category but were able to take advantage of several critical errors by the Chippewas (0-1), a 2011 NCAA Tournament participant and the defending Mid-American Conference Champions, in the second and fifth sets to claim the victory. It was Auburn’s seventh win in its last nine season-opening matches.
“They’re a very difficult team (to prepare for),” Auburn head coach Rick Nold said. “We knew coming in about the experience they had from last year, going to the NCAA Tournament, and we knew they were going to be a tough team to play. I was really happy with the way we responded. They got us down a few times, but we came back and kept playing aggressively.”
Auburn was able to spread its offense around as six players had at least five kills in the match. Redshirt junior Katherine Culwell, in her first match back after missing the entire 2011 season with an injury, led the Auburn offense with 11 kills. She also contributed a pair of service aces, five digs and two blocks on the night.
Senior Sarah Bullock and junior Camila Jersonsky had nine kills apiece while junior Courtney McDonald added eight, junior Brittney Rhude had seven and junior Chloe Rowand had five. McDonald also added a team-high five blocks. Junior libero Sarah Wroblicky led the Tigers defensively with 22 digs.
Freshman Ciara Richards made her presence felt immediately as she led the team with 23 assists and barely missed a double-double in her first collegiate match with nine digs. But perhaps her biggest contribution came in the form of four service aces, the most by an Auburn individual since Liz Crouch had five against Troy on Aug. 27, 2010.
“She did a really good job serving,” Nold said. “She’s putting pressure on the other team, keeping them out of system. You look at a first (collegiate) match for somebody, there’s a lot going on in their head, and I thought she did a good job controlling all that.”
Central Michigan took the first set, 25-17, as the Chippewas out-hit the Tigers by a .448 to .167 margin. CMU did not commit a hitting error throughout the set and also took advantage of six attack errors and four service errors by Auburn. The Tigers would keep it as close as two points at 10-8, but CMU would pull ahead to a 15-10 lead. Two straight aces from Richards made it a 15-13 game, but the Chippewas would go on a 5-2 run, punctuated by a service ace of their own, to make it 20-15. From there, an Auburn service error and two attack errors would give CMU the winning margin.
Auburn would turn the tables in the second set, pulling out a 26-15 win to even the match at a set apiece. The Tigers took their first lead at 2-1 and never looked back, pulling away early to take a 12-7 lead and force a Chippewas timeout. Three straight CMU points would make it 12-10, but the Tigers would roll off a 10-3 run to all but put the set out of reach at 22-13. Auburn would hit .414 in the set compared to Central Michigan’s .065 as CMU committed eight hitting errors against Auburn’s two.
The third set was a wild, back-and-forth affair that ultimately went Auburn’s way, 30-28. The Tigers jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead and never trailed in the set until, at 24-22, Central Michigan fought off two Auburn set point chances and then had one of their own after a Tiger error. A kill from McDonald brought the score back even at 25-25, and a CMU error gave Auburn another set point chance at 26-25. But Central Michigan would fight off that attempt and two more, eventually knotting the score at 28-28. Freshman Mary Hannah Arrington, who had just entered the game, would get her first collegiate kill at the most opportune time, giving Auburn another set point chance at 29-28. This time, an attack attempt from CMU would go long, and the Tigers would take the set and a 2-1 lead in the match.
“The key to us being the team we want to be – and we talked about this after the match – is that we stay mentally strong and keep fighting in those situations,” Nold said.
Set four was almost a carbon copy of the first as the Chippewas out-hit Auburn .480 to .032 en route to a 25-16 win, knotting the score at two sets apiece. The Tigers were never quite able to get in sync as CMU jumped out to a 10-4 lead and never looked back; Auburn would get no closer than five points the rest of the way.
However, the Tigers came out firing in the fifth set. Auburn jumped to a 5-0 lead, forcing two Central Michigan timeouts, but the Chippewas came back with a vengeance, knotting the score at 6-6 on two straight aces and a pair of kills. Auburn would score two straight to take an 8-6 lead as the teams changed ends, but CMU would then get two straight to tie things up once again at 8-8. From there, though, the Chippewas would hand Auburn three straight points on two attack errors and a bad set to give the Tigers an 11-8 lead. CMU would get one more kill to pull within two points at 11-9, but Auburn would score the final four points, getting an ace from Richards and a kill from Rhude to put it away.
Central Michigan was led by Angelique White with 14 kills. Jenna Coates had 34 digs, and Kelly Maxwell had 46 assists.
Auburn will play two matches Saturday to wrap up the Green Bay /Country Inn & Suites Tournament. The Tigers will face Drake at 10 a.m. and then conclude the weekend with a 7 p.m. match against host UW-Green Bay. Fans can follow @AUVolleyball on Twitter for updates throughout the day, and live stats and live video are available at GreenBayPhoenix.com.
Arkansas Gets Sweep of UT-Martin in season opener
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team opened its 2012 season with a straight-set victory (25-16, 25-18, 25-19) over UT-Martin Friday evening at Barnhill Arena. Six players registered at least six kills against the Skyhawks, including a match-high 10 kills from senior Roslandy Acosta. The Razorbacks combined for a .348 hitting percentage and held their opponent to a .087 figure.
Junior setter Raymariely Santos collected a double-double performance with 25 assists and a team-high 13 digs. She added seven kills to her output. Senior Janeliss Torres-Lopez finished the night with nine kills and four total blocks. Santos, Kasey Heckelman and Jasmine Norton each had seven kills against UT-Martin. Norton also had 10 digs. Freshman Liz Fortado had a match-high five total blocks in her collegiate debut.
“It always feels good to start the season with a win,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “We did some good things but at times we were a little sloppy and jittery. But that’s expected being the first match out. I liked our effort tonight and now we have to re-gather for a quick turnaround against Northwestern State in the morning.”
The Razorbacks won the first four points of the match, and built a lead as large as nine on their way to a first-set win against UT-Martin. Fortado bookended the set with kills, helping Arkansas to the 25-16 win in the opener. In the first set, the Arkansas defense posted four total blocks and held the Skyhawks to a .030 hitting percentage.
“We really went out there to dig everything,” junior libero Emily Helm said. “That’s something we’re really focusing on, digging as many balls as we can. That just frustrates the hitters on the other side so I think it helped us out in being fearless and doing our thing defensively.”
In the second set, the offense dominated play with a .485 output. Five Razorbacks had at least two kills during the game, including six from Acosta. With the score tied at six, the home team reeled off seven consecutive points to seize control of the set. A kill from senior Jasmine Norton gave Arkansas its first nine-point lead of the game. On the team’s third set point, Acosta found the floor to send the Razorbacks to the halftime with a 25-18 win.
The third set was the tightest of the night with Arkansas never gaining more than a three-point lead through the first half of the game. Senior Janeliss Torres-Lopez had a kill to give the Razorbacks a 16-11 lead but the visitors won five of the next seven points to force Pulliza to call his first timeout of the match. Arkansas won the last three points of the match including the final kill from Santos.
In the first match Friday, Kansas beat Northwestern State in straight sets. The Razorbacks will play Northwestern State at 11 a.m. (CT) Saturday and return to the court for the tournament finale against Kansas at 7 p.m. The Arkansas Invitational is the first of two home tournaments for the Razorbacks this season.
General admission at Barnhill Arena is $4 with fans 17 and younger getting in free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena. Those students who have their cards swiped will receive 1,500 RazorReward points. Students attending the Kansas match Saturday will also have the opportunity to win an iPod Touch.
For match coverage of this weekend’s Arkansas Invitational, including interactive blog, live stats and video stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Both of the Razorbacks’ matches Saturday will be broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. New to the 2012 season, fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Twitter and Facebook accounts.
No. 13 Kentucky Sweeps Past North Carolina in Opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the seventh time in eight seasons and in front of a boisterous crowd of 1,621 fans the No. 13 Kentucky volleyball team began the season with a win earning a 3-0 sweep of North Carolina (25-23, 25-22, 25-14) on Friday evening. It marked the first sweep in a season opener since the 2007 squad captured the same result against Wright State.
“Very happy with that win, obviously with the first match of the season you don’t know what to expect,” Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said. “Our concentration at the end of game’s one and two I think were the difference in that match and us being able to perform when the match is close is a good sign early.”
Kentucky improves to 1-0 on the season and North Carolina, a team receiving votes in the coaches’ poll, drops to 0-1 in the early going. UK will face Lipscomb at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday morning in the second session of the Kentucky Classic before drawing Long Beach State at approximately 8 p.m. tomorrow evening. Long Beach State captured a 3-0 win over the Lady Bisons in the first match of the Classic earlier tonight.
“Great crowd, great energy and very knowledgeable and that is a sign of our program continuing to get better,” Skinner said. “You see a lot of people you have never seen before in the stands, it’s a huge advantage for us and I hope they come back tomorrow.”
Sophomore Lauren O’Conner led a balanced offensive attack that combined for 45 kills on .262 hitting as senior setter Christine Hartmann dished out 37 assists. O’Conner paced all attackers with 12 kills as five players for the Wildcats notched five or more kills on the night. Senior Ashley Frazier narrowly missed on a double-digit effort with nine kills followed by eight from the hand of junior middle blocker Alexandra Morgan which matched a career high. Junior Whitney Billings posted seven followed by five from freshman Sara Schwarzwalder.
Morgan led the defensive charge with a team-leading six blocks to accompany a .467 hitting clip. O’Conner set a new personal standard with five blocks on the evening, while Hartmann contributed four.
Senior libero Stephanie Klefot guided the back row effort with a match-high 13 digs. Billings pitched in with eight, and sophomore Jackie Napper added six. Freshman Shelby Workman was impressive in her first collegiate match with five digs while adding a kill from the back row.
The opening two sets were close as the Tar Heels gave the 13th-ranked Wildcats everything they had.
O’Conner got the Wildcats off to a great start with six kills on a blistering .545 hitting clip in the opening stanza. The teams exchanged points until the Wildcats broke free for a three-point rally to make the score 15-13 highlighted by back-to-back blocks from O’Conner. UNC clawed back and tied the score again at 21 before the Wildcats finished the set on a 4-2 run and claimed a 25-23 opening frame win. Kentucky’s defense forced the Tar Heels into a set-clinching attacking error.
The second set featured a similar back-and-forth battle with the teams swapping points all the way until the score reached 19-19. Kentucky notched four straight points with Billings igniting for a pair of kills and Klefot contributing an ace to make the score 23-19. North Carolina struck back for thee of the next four points before a block from Morgan and O’Conner capped the set in favor of the home squad for a 25-22 second set win and a 2-0 lead into the break.
Morgan led the way in the second stanza with five kills on a .625 hitting clip without committing an error. She also turned back two attacks in the frame. UK struck for 19 kills on .324 hitting to break free from Carolina.
Following the break Kentucky dominated the final frame with a 25-14 match-clinching set. O’Conner led the offensive effort with four kills on .500 hitting while the defense combined for 4.5 blocks to force the Tar Heels into a -.067 hitting percentage and a mere eight kills in the set.
UK opened to a 6-1 advantage and never looked back. The Wildcats stretched their lead to a match-high 11 points at 20-9 following consecutive miscues from the visitors. Hartmann torched the defense with an ace and the Wildcat defense flustered Carolina into two attack errors over the final four points for the win.
#12 FSU Tops #15 Lady Vols, 3-0
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 12th-ranked Florida State Seminoles defeated the No. 15 Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team in straight sets, 3-0 (27-25, 25-15,25-21) on Friday night at Thompson-Boling Arena to conclude the opening night of the 2012 Comcast Lady Vol Classic.
Kelsey Robinson led UT with 12 kills and eight digs. Tiffany Baker had 11 kills. Mary Pollmiller dished out 26 assists.
Florida State won a tough opening set, 27-25, after the Lady Vols rallied from five points down to force two set points. FSU finished the opening frame with back to back blocks to go up 1-0 in the match.
The Seminoles, 2011 NCAA Final Four participants, jumped out to a 14-9 lead in the second frame and went on to a 25-15 victory in the set.
With a 2-0 lead, Florida State took control early in the third set and despite a late rally by the Lady Vols that cut the deficit 22-20 late, FSU captured the set 25-21.
No. 10 Iowa State shutout Cincinnati, 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-20), in the opening match of the tournament.
Tournament action resumes on Saturday morning when the Lady Vols take on Cincinnati at 10 a.m. Iowa State will play FSU at noon and the Seminoles will take on the Bearcats at 5:30 p.m. UT concludes the event at 7:30 p.m. against the 10th-ranked Cyclones.
Baker, Scott Pace Bulldogs in Sweep of Jackson State
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A veteran and a rookie starred for the Volleyball Bulldogs Friday night, powering Mississippi State to a season-opening straight-sets win over Jackson State in the first round of MSU’s Maroon Classic. A boisterous crowd of 1,605, second-largest volleyball attendance at the Newell-Grissom Building, cheered the Bulldogs on to 25-9, 25-9 and 25-17 wins.
Senior Chanelle Baker (Carrollton, Texas) piled up 13 kills on a .667 hitting night while freshman Taylor Scott (Claremont, Calif.), one of five first-year Bulldogs to see playing time in the match, added 13 kills of her own in an impressive collegiate debut.
The Bulldogs continue play in the two-day MSU Classic Saturday taking on ULM at 12:30 p.m. and first-time foe Kennesaw State at 7 p.m. KSU topped ULM 3-1 (25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-12) in Friday’s tourney-opener.
“We did a lot of the things that we set out to do tonight - had good ball control, played good defense, and kept our mistakes to a minimum,” said fourth-year Bulldog head coach Jenny Hazelwood. “I thought the team did a great job tonight, especially when you consider how young we are.”
In addition to Scott, the Bulldog starting lineup also included rookie outside hitter Katie Enright (Novi, Mich.) and middle blocker Sarah Nielsen (Cypress, Texas), with defensive specialist Roxanne McVey (Magnolia, Texas) and middle blocker Alex Warren (San Antonio, Texas) seeing duty off the bench.
Defending SWAC champ Jackson State, one of six MSU opponents in 2012 that advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament, scored the first point of the match on a kill by Jasmine Knight. But the Bulldogs forced 13 JSU attack errors in the opening set, bolting to a 10-point lead at 14-4 and cruising home to a 25-9 win.
The Bulldog offense got rolling early in the second period when State jumped out to an 8-1 advantage. Scott was dazzling in her second set of college volleyball, tallying seven of her 13 kills in the period. Her final point-producing swing gave the Bulldogs a 25-9 win in the stanza.
Baker, who registered eight kills in nine attacks in the first two frames, added five kills in the third set as State pulled away from a sluggish 6-6 start to nail down the season-opener with a 25-17 win. The MSU co-captain backed her 13-kill performance with 11 digs, notching the third double-double of her MSU career. “She did a good job of carrying a big bulk of our offense tonight,” said Hazelwood.
The Bulldogs hit .325 for the match, building a 36-25 edge in kills while leading 46-32 in digs and 15-7 in total blocks. Nielsen registered seven kills on a .545 hitting night while McVey took match honors with 21 digs. Warren, another rookie, paced MSU at the next with five blocks, including the team’s lone solo rejection. Perret finished the night with 32 assists, a pair of kills and two blocks.
Hazelwood expressed appreciation for the opening night gathering of Bulldog volleyball fans. “They were amazing. Our fans give us a lot of energy, and they seemed to get super excited and loud every time we made a big play,” she said.
Jackson State got a 12-kill showing from Christine Edwards and a nine-dig effort from Dana Yoshimura.
LSU Volleyball Falls to No. 2 Texas in Season Opener
BATON ROUGE, La. – Desiree Elliott pounded home 10 kills, but No. 2 Texas rode a .417 hitting percentage to sweep the LSU volleyball team by a 25-12, 25-19, 25-19 margin during the season opener for both teams at the 26 West Longhorns Classic Friday in-front of 2,107 fans inside Gregory Gym.
In addition to 10 kills, Elliott came away with three digs and a block in her first match as a six-rotation player. Madie Jones tallied nine kills, four digs and a pair of aces. Helen Boyle and Cati Leak garnered six kills apiece on identical .150 hitting ratios. Leak along with Khourni Fears, Katie Lindelow and Haley Smith made their debuts for the Purple and Gold.
Malorie Pardo handed out 31 assists, but LSU’s (0-1) offense was limited to a .153 hitting percentage along with 44 percent sideout efficiency. Meghan Mannari registered a team-leading nine digs.
“We played safe, and we knew from the beginning it was going to be ugly if this match turned into a Texas style of match,” head coach Fran Flory said. “We were not able to maintain our side, and our style of play. Unfortunately, we could not execute at a high enough level. Credit Texas a lot of credit, they are awfully good and play very physical. They used their athleticism and hit over the top of us for most of the match.”
The Longhorns (1-0) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 31 matches and were paced by Haley Eckerman, the reigning AVCA National Freshmen of the Year. She powered home on a .429 clip and was joined in double figure spikes by Bailey Webster, who added 10 kills and three blocks. Sha’Dare McNeal popped nine kills on 13 swings to claim a .692 ratio, while Khat Bell tacked on eight kills and recorded five blocks.
Texas claimed a 10-2 blocking edge and a 48-38 advantage in the digs department. Kat Brooks and Sarah Palmer collected 13 and 12 scoops, respectively.
“You have to be a risk taker in these types of matches,” Flory said. “I don’t think we did a great job of attacking their weaknesses and playing with the necessary faith in our abilities. It’s the first match of the season. I thought our freshmen held their own. They did a nice job, and their stats don’t show the effort they put forth in my opinion.”
The Longhorns raced out to a 12-3 lead in the first set and made the most of six early LSU attack errors. The Tigers trimmed the deficit down to seven points on two occasions, the latest at 19-12 on a Leak kill. Out of the timeout, Texas responded with six consecutive points to claim the opening frame.
LSU regrouped and stormed out to an 8-4 advantage capped by an Elliott-Pardo stuff on Eckerman to start set two. The Longhorns fired back with nine of the next 11 points to capture a 13-10 edge. The two teams went back-and-forth and an Elliott kill kept the tally at 21-18 before Texas reeled off four of the final points of the stanza for the 25-19 win.
Out of the locker room, the Longhorns kept the momentum and built a 12-5 lead to start the third set. LSU ran off 10 of the next 14 to charge back within 16-15. The run was finished off by Boyle and Elliott along with a Mannari ace. Eckerman finished with a flurry of four kills to enable the Longhorns to close out the sweep with a 25-19 victory.
“This team is going to come together,” Flory said. “It could happen as soon as tomorrow morning because we have the opportunity to gain some confidence and get a different drive about us. San Diego is very talented. They run a fast-physical style of offense like we do. I have a lot of confidence in our group to bounce back and throw tonight out. What’s done is done, we’ll put it together and be ready in the morning.”
LSU concludes the 26 West Longhorns Classic Saturday against No. 19 San Diego and Cal Poly. First serve is scheduled for 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. Both matches will have live audio and live stats available for free inside the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.
For all of the latest news and information on Tiger volleyball, visit www.lsusports.net/volleyball. Fans can also follow the program on its social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsuvolleyball along with @lsuvolleyball and @lsucoachfran on Twitter.
Admission to all 2012 home matches at the Maravich Center are free compliments of the Advocate's "Geaux Free" program.
Mizzou Wins a Pair on Opening Day of Tiger Invite
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Mizzou volleyball program opened its 2012 regular season with a pair of wins on day one of the Tiger Invitational on Friday (Aug. 24) at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers defeated North Florida, 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-19), in the first match of the day and came back to knock off ACC foe Virginia Tech, 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-19, 25-16), to improve to 2-0 on the day. Mizzou will play two more matches tomorrow at day two of the Tiger Invitational as it will compete against Nicholls State at 12:30 p.m. and No. 23 Michigan at 7 p.m. Mizzou and Michigan both finished day one of the tournament undefeated, setting up a possible title match between the two teams tomorrow evening at the Hearnes Center.
“Overall I was impressed with our performance today,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said. “I was especially impressed with how we came back after dropping the second set to Virginia Tech tonight. The way the team rallied and played coming out of intermission gives me a lot of confidence moving forward. There are still a lot of areas which we need to improve, so I am anxious to get back out tomorrow and play two more good teams.”
On the day, there were several standouts, including sophomore middle blocker Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) who hit a team-best .571 on the day with 23 kills and a team-best seven blocks. She closed her evening by tallying a career-best 14 kills on .571 hitting in the Tigers’ win over Virginia Tech. A third-team All-American last year, junior Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) also had a great day, leading the Tigers with 28 kills on .303 hitting while adding 10 digs over the two matches. Newcomer Taylor Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted 20 kills and 18 digs in her first to matches as a Tiger as well. She hit .273 over the two matches.
All-SEC Preseason pick Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) was phenomenal as well, spreading 75 assists (10.71) while guiding the team to a .327 attack percentage. She also tallied 22 digs over the two matches as she posted a pair of double-doubles while adding eight kills on .727 hitting. Defensively, sophomore libero Jade Hayes (Ozark, Mo.) led the Tigers with 28 digs, including a career-best 17 digs in the night cap against Virginia Tech. She also committed just two reception errors on 34 chances, good for a .941 service reception percentage.
The Tigers opened the day with a dominating win over a feisty North Florida team that took No. 23 Michigan to four sets in a close match later in the day. Mizzou opened with a 25-18 set win in the first and took the second and third in similar fashion, 25-17 and 25-19. Henning led the Tigers with 12 kills on .296 hitting while Little was sensational in the middle, hitting .571 with nine kills and three blocks. Kreklow spread 31 assists and tallied 11 digs while Hayes pulled in 11 in the match. Sophomore Melissa Hartsel (Concordia, Kan.) earned her first career start on Friday and tallied three kills on five attacks and finished with a match-high five blocks. The Tigers limited UNF to .000 hitting, posting 11.0 blocks in the match.
The nightcap was a tight match before intermission as both teams took a set with a 25-22 final (Mizzou win the first, Virginia Tech the second). But following the intermission, the Tigers came out and shut the door on the Hokies, winning the last two sets in convincing fashion, 25-19 and 25-16. Little was a force again for the Tigers in the middle with a career-best 14 kills on .571 hitting. Henning finished with 16 kills and Simpson added 12 while pulling in 13 digs, good for her first career double-double. She hit .333 in the win. Kreklow was great again, spreading 44 assists while guiding the team on a .349 attack percentage. Hayes pulled in a career-best 17 digs in the win.
The final note on Friday, sophomore Niki Collier (Columbia, Mo.) earned her first two career starts and finished the day with eight digs. Mizzou will be back in action against Nicholls State tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. and then will close with No. 23 Michigan at 7 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.
Georgia Volleyball Opens Season with 3-1 Win
ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia volleyball team opened its season with a 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 25-10) win over the Georgia Southern Eagles in front of packed house of 1,009 fans at the Ramsey Student Center on Friday evening on the first day of the Benson’s Hospitality Bulldog Invitational.
Brittany Northcutt picked up the season’s first double-double performance, tallying 14 kills and 10 digs. Tirah Le’au notched a .414 hitting percentage, picking up 12 kills in 29 attempts. Lauren Teknippadded 12 kills on the day.
Maggie Baumert paced the Bulldog offense with 24 assists, while Kaylee Kehoe added 17. Defensively, Allison Summers led the way with 21 digs, while Elena Perri picked a pair of solo blocks and a pair of block assists. Jasmine Eatmon totaled three block assists in the contest.
“I was very impressed at how this team battled and fought for points today,” said head coach Lizzy Stemke, who improved to 2-0 in season openers. “Georgia Southern is a well-coached team and we knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game tonight. Our players responded well and really showed that they are willing to fight for every point and not make mental errors. I am really proud of how our players responded when they got behind. I think this team will be one that doesn’t accept losing, which will help us as the season progresses.”
Enjoli Johnson, who tallied 12 kills, and Meredith Paskert, who added 10, led Georgia Southern offensively. Kate Van Dyke paced the offense with a match-high 42 assists. Three Eagles finished with double-digit digs, led by Moriah Bellissimo and Alexandra Beecher with 13 each. Meghan Morillo tallied 10 digs. As a team, Georgia Southern tallied six total bocks, led by Johnson and Paskert with three assisted blocks each.
“I thought we played really well today, especially in that last set,” Briana Bahr said following her nine-kill performance. “It was a little shaky in the third set, but we pulled through and showed that we have fight and are able to come through with a win. We just have a refuse to lose attitude this year.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to an 8-4 lead in set one before Georgia Southern answered by stringing together a run of its own to tie thematch at 11. Georgia maintained the edge throughout set one until a block by GSU’s Van Dyke and Paskert put the Eagles up one at 23-22. The Bulldogs answered by scoring the final three points of the match on a service error and kills by Northcutt and Teknipp.
Georgia grabbed a 4-1 lead in set two before Georgia Southern fought back to take a 14-10 lead. Behind the serve of Nicole Choi, the Bulldogs put together seven-straight points, including a pair of kills by Northcutt and a service ace, which allowed them to take a 23-19 lead. The Bulldogs never looked back, as a kill by Bahr sealed the second set 25-21 and put Georgia on top 2-0.
Georgia Southern took the third set 25-19 to make it a 2-1 match and force a fourth set. Trailing 3-0, Georgia fought back to tie the set at five before the Eagles scored seven of the next nine points to take a 12-7 lead. UGA cut the lead to three at 13-10 on a Northcutt kill, and again at 20-17 on a kill by Teknipp, but would not come any closer as Georgia Southern scored the final two points to take the win.
Georgia bounced back in the fourth and final set, racing out to a 14-4 lead. Georgia Southern could not find an answer to Georgia’s offensive outburst that saw it hit at a .480 clip, including nine combined kills from Northcutt, Le’au and Bahr. The Bulldogs went on to score six of the final seven points on the match, including the game-winning kill by Bahr.
The Bulldogs return to action tomorrow night at 7 p.m., when they take on the Troy Trojans at 7 p.m., in the Ramsey Student Center.
Ole Miss Volleyball Can’t Hold On, Falls To Hurricanes In Season Opener
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – A career-high 30-dig performance from senior libero Ashley Veach, and three double-double performances wasn’t enough for the Ole Miss volleyball team in its season opener at Miami (Fla.) in the Hurricane Invitational. After winning the opening two sets, the Rebels couldn’t hold on against the home-standing Hurricanes, falling 3-2 (24-26, 20-25, 25-15, 25-15, 15-8).
“The thing they have to realize is that it’s a team effort,” Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. “Win, lose or draw you are a team one way or another. We have to respond now to a tough Samford team Saturday morning.”
After falling behind early in the first set 6-1, the Rebels used a 9-2 run to take a 10-8 lead. The two teams traded points back and forth before senior Amanda Philpot and freshman Nakeyta Clair teamed up for their second block of the set to give the Rebels a 14-13 lead. Ole Miss would never trail again for the remainder of the set as Philpot, Clair, Whitney Craven, Kara Morgan and Kellie Goss each had team-highs of three kills.
After falling behind 4-1 to start the second set, Ole Miss again rebounded strongly, going on a 5-1 run to take a 6-5 lead. Following a Miami (Fla.) timeout with the Rebels leading 15-11, Philpot recorded Ole Miss’ next three points to give Ole Miss an 18-13 lead. Goss and Morgan led Ole Miss offensively for the set with four kills each.
Despite the 2-0 lead, Getzin said he still saw his team failing to execute in the manner he was hoping for.
“We started playing to the score a little bit and didn’t respond very well,” Getzin said. “It’s tough to play on the road. It’s a little disappointing, a little frustrating, but you learn from it and move to the next one.”
Miami took the third set by a count of 25-15, hitting at a strong clip of 68 percent, recording 14 kills on 24 attempts. The Hurricanes also won the fourth set, leading for much of the set and taking it by a final count of 25-15.
The Hurricanes jumped out to an early lead in the fifth set and withstood a 4-2 run by the Rebels to take the set 15-8, and the match.
Craven (12 kills, 12 digs), Philpot (37 assists, 14 digs) and Morgan (12 kills, 11 digs) each finished with double-doubles for the Rebels. Philpot finished the match two kills shy of her sixth career-triple-double. Veach’s 30 digs was a career high and caught Getzin’s eyes.
“Any time you put up 30 digs, six digs per game, that’s some really good numbers,” Getzin said. “She did a really nice job passing wise as well.”
Ole Miss will compete in a pair of matches Saturday at the Hurricane Invitational. The Rebels will face Samford, which fell to Rutgers in its opening match 3-2, at 9:00 a.m. CT. Ole Miss will then close out its trip to Coral Gables, Fla., with a 6:00 p.m. CT match against Wofford, which played a doubleheader Friday, losing to Miami (3-0) and Rutgers (3-2).
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including recaps and updates from each of Saturday’s two matches, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB and Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball.
No. 18/20 Gators Sweep FIU to Start the Season
The No. 18/20 University of Florida volleyball team (1-0, 0-0 SEC) used a 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-12) sweep to defeat the FIU Panthers on Friday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The Gators are now 21-8 all-time in lid-lifters and notched their ninth consecutive victory in a season-opening match.
The Gators hit .417 on the night, aided by 15 kills from preseason All-SEC selection Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) and 10 from freshman outside hitter Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.). Both Mann and senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) hit .545 against the Panthers, making the team's .417 clip the highest opening night hitting percentage in Florida history.
"Berkley Whaley was nothing short of outstanding tonight," Florida head coach Mary Wise said. "We had a pretty good combination there with Taylor Brauneis to Chloe Mann that was pretty effective tonight as well. We got on a good serving run and that's got to be one of our staples. It may not happen every night but if we put pressure on a team serving, it's just so much easier to play defense behind that."
Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished 38 assists on the night, spreading the offense across the pins all evening. Mann tallied 17 points on the evening, while Whaley and Smith added 11 and 8.5, respectively. Sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) registered 13 digs against the Panthers to lead all players. In her collegiate debut, redshirt freshman Simone Antwi (Lorton, Va.) recorded five kills and two blocks for seven points in her first official match as a Gator.
Besides the Gators' remarkable hitting percentage, another record was broken on Friday, as the crowd of 4,705 marked the largest home opener attendance in Gator history.
"I asked Missy Whittemore, our radio analyst who played in the early 90s, and we both wondered (if it mirrored) the '93 game against Florida State with the student turnout," Wise said. "But nothing was as organized (before last year) and we had never had a student group. I guess there is a shortage on shirts going on (referring to their painted chests) but there wasn't a shortage of enthusiasm. That group of students in the end zone was the best we've ever had and they were huge…them and their other 4,000 friends."
Another impressive feat was the Gators' serve reception game, as Florida did not commit a single reception error on the night. The last time UF passed a perfect serve receive percentage was November 6, 2011 against Ole Miss.
The first set was tight throughout, as the two teams tied 11 times and traded the lead three times during the opening stanza. Mann was on a tear in the first set, slamming eight errorless kills, including five straight to pull away from the Panthers at 23-19. Brauneis teamed up with freshman middle blocker Antwi to close the set on a stuff block, 25-21.
The Gators were down early in the second set, before back-to-back kills by freshman outside hitters Whaley and Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) pulled the Gators within one, 6-7. Aggressive serving by Unroe continued the Gators' run and three straight FIU attacking errors forced the Panthers to take timeout, 12-9. Behind the tricky jump floats of Whaley and sophomore Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.), Florida began to roll and took a 19-12 lead off another Mann kill to force FIU's second timeout of the set. Brauneis served out the set, sparked by a service ace at 21-14, to take the second stanza, 25-14.
Pole's serve continued to serve the Gators well, as Florida took an early 6-1 lead in the third set. FIU took both of their timeouts in the third stanza with Pole behind the service line, as their second stoppage came at 15-7. The Gators continued to swing away both at the net and behind the service line, with Whaley and Pole contributing a combined 32 service attempts against the Panthers. The Brauneis-Mann connection proved to be too much for FIU, as the Gators pulled even farther away at 20-9. Freshman Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) tallied her first Gator kill to bring Florida to 23-11, and a block by senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) and Antwi set the Gators up for match point, taking the set, 25-12.
Florida continues the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational on Saturday as the Gators take on Florida A&M at 12 p.m. ET in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. In the nightcap, Florida will face Florida Gulf Coast for the first meeting in program history. Both matches will be streamed live online on GatorVision and fans can tune into ESPN 850/900 to hear to Tom Collett and former Gator All-SEC selection Missy Whittemore call the action live.