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    SEC Volleyball Today: November 18

    volleyBALL RESULTS
    Florida 3, South Carolina 0
    Tennessee 3, LSU 0
    Kentucky 3, Georgia 1
    Alabama 3, Auburn 0
    Mizzou 3, Mississippi State 0
    Arkansas 3, Ole Miss 1


    Gators Claim SEC Title Outright

    It was a total team effort on Sunday, as the No. 16 Florida volleyball team won the 2012 Southeastern Conference title outright with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-19) sweep of South Carolina. The Gators are now 23-4 on the year and 17-1 in SEC play with two matches remaining in the regular season. This is the 20th SEC title in the history of Florida volleyball, with all 20 coming under Florida head coach Mary Wise.

     
    “The theme on Friday night was our team’s defense and today was the offense,” Wise said. “We had four people in double-digit kills and hit .464. Taylor Brauneis did a really great job with set distribution and we were just a little bit quicker to the ball and made good decisions. Our goal is trying to put our best defense with our best offense and take it on the road for the last two matches.”
     
    Florida was led by senior middle blocker Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) and senior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) who hit .500 (11 kills) and .444 (10 kills), respectively. Freshman outside hitter Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) turned in her eighth career double-double with a match-high 17 kills and 10 digs.
     
    Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out 50 assists, tying former All-American Lauren Moscovic for the fifth-most in a three-set match in Florida program history.
     
    Junior middle blocker Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.) registered 12 kills against the Gamecocks, hitting .524, while freshman outside hitter Berkley Whaley (St. Petersburg, Fla.) turned in a perfect seven kills on 11 swings for a .636 hitting clip.
     
    On the defensive side of things, sophomores Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) and Holly Pole (Ocala, Fla.) registered 14 and 10 digs apiece, while sophomore Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) recorded nine.
     
    “It’s unbelievable,” Smith said of winning the SEC title. “At the beginning of the season it’s something we always say is our goal, and it’s been so special this season. Through all the ups and downs we’ve had with injuries and sicknesses, and with the young freshman class it’s taken all of us, a full team effort, and that’s what’s so special about this win today and winning the SEC.”
     
    The Gators took the title despite having eight new players on the floor, a torn ACL sustained by Noami Santos-Lamb (Carolina, Puerto-Rico), illnesses and injuries, and five departing seniors from 2011.
     
    Senior Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) recognized that as much as Senior Day is about the senior class, it is also about the family standing with them.
     
    “To have them be able to stand there with me in that moment and have them recognized for everything they’ve done,” Weston noted. “As much as we put in the hours every day in the gym, it’s about our parents and all the countless hours they’ve driven us to practice and what they’ve done to get us here. Four years doesn’t happen without the 22 or 23 that they’ve given to us of their own lives.”
     
    Florida took the opening frame, 25-19. Florida jumped out to a 4-0 lead with Brauneis behind the service line, utilizing back-to-back kills by Wiggs. An Unroe service ace pushed the lead to five, 7-2, and a Brauneis dumped kill put the Gators at double figures, 10-3. Florida continued to roll and a Wiggs slam from the middle sparked a 4-0 rally to go ahead 21-14, bookended by a Brauneis-Smith roof. The Florida block continued to wreak havoc and a Brauneis-Mann stuff ended the set in the Gators’ favor, 25-19.
     
    The second set went Florida’s way, 25-14. Brauneis served up an ace to get the Gators to double digits, 10-6, and earned another one to lead at 12-6. Back-to-back Whaley slams and kills by Recek and Smith put Florida up by double figures, 19-9. A Brauneis dumped kill put Florida ahead, 22-11, and three straight Mann kills gave the Gators the second stanza, 25-14.
     
    The third stanza favored Florida, 25-19. A Recek kill started the set off well for the Orange and Blue, and a Whaley slam put Florida ahead, 5-3. South Carolina scored two straight but Smith earned a kill off the slide to break the tie, 6-5. Monserez scrambled for a save during a long rally between the teams and kept the play alive for the Gators, tying things at 8-all. Whaley nailed her seventh kill of the afternoon to lead 12-10 and a Smith kill off the quick set put the Gators ahead, 14-10. A Recek kill out of backrow put Florida up by four, 15-11, heading into the media timeout, and Smith nailed her 10th kill of the match to put the Orange and Blue ahead, 16-11. A Mann kill got the Gators to the double-decade mark, 20-14, forcing a Gamecock timeout. South Carolina went on a run to cut the Gator lead to four, 21-17, but Recek terminated the rally with a slam through the block, 22-17. Fittingly enough, a senior put the match away for the Orange and Blue, as Wiggs slammed it through the seam of the SC block, 25-19.
     
    The Gators hit the road for their final SEC matches of the season, traveling to Auburn and Georgia over Thanksgiving. The Orange and Blue head to Tiger Country to face Auburn at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday evening. Florida will travel on the Thanksgiving holiday to Athens, Ga., as the Gators take on the Georgia Bulldogs at 7 p.m. ET on Friday night to close the 2012 regular season.
     
    “This is all about putting ourselves in the best position come selection show,” Wise commented. “In the last week of the season, right before the NCAA committee is making their decision, we want to have Florida in the best possible light that we can and we can do that with just four losses, that would be great. But most importantly, we want to be playing our best volleyball at the end of the year and that’s what we’re going to be working on with the players and selling them on.”
     
    The NCAA Selection Show will take place on Sunday, November 25th at 4 p.m. on ESPNU. With the win today, Florida earns the SEC’s automatic bid for the NCAA Championships.



    Tennessee Sweeps LSU
     

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team extended its winning streak to seven matches with a straight-set sweep of LSU on Sunday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. Tennessee, which honored seniors Jasmine Brown, Leslie Cikra, DeeDee Harrison and Kayla Jeter prior to the action for Senior Day, completed the season sweep of the Tigers with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-21 victory.
     
    The Big Orange, which has won 12 of its last 13 matches, improves to 21-6 overall and 14-4 in Southeastern Conference play with the win. LSU falls to 12-16 overall and 8-11 in league action.
     
    "All four seniors were really more athletes than volleyball players when they came in," said head coach Rob Patrick. "To see their progression as athletes in the program has been incredible. Between the amount of work we did with them and the amount of work they put in - my hat is off to them. After the season I'm really going to enjoy looking back on their careers."
     
    After tying a career high with 20 kills in Friday's win over Auburn, Cikra came back with a 17-kill performance on Sunday against LSU. She committed just five errors on 31 swings for a .387 attacking clip. Junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson followed with 11 kills and 16 digs for her SEC-leading 20th double-double of the season.
     
    "Leslie had big kills today. She had kills that people really noticed. When she got a kill, it was a statement kill. I'm so happy for her - she struggled a little bit at the beginning of the year - but she put in a lot of work and now you're seeing the results of that. She's done a wonderful job of just getting better throughout her career."
     
    Adding to the balanced offensive attack for the Orange and White was the redshirt senior duo of Jeter and Harrison. Jeter put down nine kills for UT and Harrison added six putaways, while hitting an even .500 with no errors in the match.
     
    Defensively, Tennessee was able to outdig the Tigers - who lead the conference in digs per set - by a 59-47 margin. Junior libero Ellen Mullins led the defensive effort with a match-high 19 digs for an impressive 6.33 digs per set average. Sophomore setter Mary Pollmiller contributed 10 of the digs to go along with her 38 assists and three blocks. Jeter and sophomore Nikki Brice combined for nine digs.
     
    The Lady Vols were able to sideout 80 percent of the time in the opening set and got 10 combined kills from Jeter and Cikra to win the opening game, 25-20. Jeter committed no errors on 11 swings and had six kills for a scorching .545 attacking percentage in the game. Pollmiller dished out 14 of her assists in the opening frame and Robinson had seven of her 16 digs in the first.
     
    The second set began as a closely contested frame, but Tennessee put the finishing touches on the Tigers by ending the second set on a 6-1 run to win it, 25-19. Robinson and Harrison put down two kills each during the set-ending stretch. UT held LSU to a .000 attacking percentage in the game.
     
    After the break, LSU rebounded to take a three-point lead at 6-3 and 7-4, but behind strong defensive play from Mullins and offensive swings from Cikra, the Lady Vols rallied to win the deciding game, 25-21. It consisted of 12 ties and the one lead change as Cikra recorded eight kills and hit .462, while Mullins kept the long rallies going with 11 digs in the set. UT outdug LSU 22-15 in the final set and finished it on a 6-2 run. Cikra put an emphatic end to her Senior Day by picking up Tennessee's final four kills.
     
    The Orange and White makes a quick turnaround, returning to Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 21, when the Lady Vols welcome SEC-West leading Texas A&M (22-5, 14-1). UT sandwiches the Thanksgiving holiday with a Friday night matchup to conclude the regular season against Mississippi State. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. for both matches.



    Kentucky Takes Down Georgia on Senior Day


    LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sparked by an all-around effort the Kentucky volleyball team rolled to a 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 25-14, 25-17) win over visiting Georgia on Senior Day in Memorial Coliseum in front of 1,404 fans. Prior to the match, Kentucky honored its three-member senior class of Ashley Frazier, Christine Hartmann and Stephanie Klefot.
     
    The trio helped lead a dynamic effort by the Blue and White en route to its 18th victory of the season improving to 18-10 overall and 12-6 in league competition. Georgia drops to 13-15 and 7-11 in Southeastern Conference action. Kentucky will wrap up non-conference action away from home with matches at Missouri (Nov. 21) and Auburn (Nov. 23).
     
    "It was a good win and we played really well for three sets," UK coach Craig Skinnersaid. "Georgia played really well in set two. I like the way we responded. We put some serving pressure on them to help setup our blocking defense."
     
    Hartmann directed five UK players to seven or more kills with 45 assists and 13 digs for her 21st career double-double effort. Frazier posted nine kills and Klefot added a match-high 19 digs, four assists and her first kill of the season. The 19 digs in a four-set match is a season-high within league play for the Louisville, Ky., native.
     
    Junior Alexandra Morgan narrowly missed on a double-double with nine kills and a career-high 10 blocks. The 10 rejections are the most for any UK player since Lauren Rapphad 10 on Dec. 4, 2009 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Morgan ripped her nine kills on a .400 hitting clip, added three aces and four digs to her stat line.
     
    "Zan did a great job, very impressed with her blocking," Skinner said. "She worked hard on it this week and spent a lot of time on it. She came in to do some extra work. Before I think she was reaching for the ball, but today she took away space, which is the most important thing. When she does that, she's tough to hit around."
     
    Junior Whitney Billings contributed her career-best 15th double-double of the season which ranks as an SEC-leading number for right side attackers. Billings logged 13 kills and 16 digs while also contributing four blocks. Sophomore Lauren O'Connerled the Wildcats in the kills' column with 14 and tallied four blocks and four digs to aid the defensive cause.
     
    Freshman Kayla Tronickcame off the bench and sparked UK with seven kills on a match-high .417 hitting clip and added a block and her first career assist.
     
    "She (Tronick) earned it this week in practice," Skinner said. "She had a heck of a week in practice. Honestly, she deserved to start the way that she had been playing. We just needed a change of what we were doing and Kayla (Tronick) obviously did a great job. She brings a lot of energy and great play for us."
     
    Defensively, the defensive specialist duo of junior Jessi Greenberg and sophomore Jackie Napperhad a combined 17 digs which included several highlight-reel plays.
     
    Kentucky raced out to a 25-19 opening set victory to take the early 1-0 lead in the match. UK posted 18 kills on .289 hitting while limiting Georgia to nine hammers on just a .054 clip. O'Conner, Billings and Frazier all had four kills to lead the way with Hartmann and Klefot both logging five digs to lead the defensive effort.
     
    The teams swapped points for much of the opening portion of the frame until UK was able to rattle off a 9-5 run with Klefot and Billings spearheading the charge from the service line. O'Conner capped the stanza with her fourth kill of the set for the early advantage.
     
    Georgia fired back with a 25-18 second set to even the match at 1-1 into the locker room. The Bulldogs capitalized on a few UK miscues and held UK's offense to just 10 kills on .050 hitting for the win.
     
    Following the break, Kentucky dominated the third set behind four blocks from Morgan and a perfect 5-for-5 kills from Billings for the 25-14 win. UK smacked down 15 kills on .440 hitting and had four blocks to frustrate the visitors into seven hitting errors compared to just nine kills in the set.
     
    Again the set began in a back-and-forth battle until the Wildcats were able to shake loose for four consecutive points led by kills from Tronick and Billings to make the score 16-10. Back-to-back blocks from Morgan ignited the crowd with the Cats leading by 10 at 22-12. UK kept the pressure on and Morgan closed out the stanza with a kill for the 25-14 win.
     
    Kentucky raced out to a 2-0 lead behind a kill from Frazier and an ace from Morgan in the fourth set and would never look back. UK charted 15 kills on .314 hitting and had a trio of blocks in the set for the 25-17 victory to clinch the match behind a 3-1 score. Four players tallied three kills for UK and Billings had seven digs to prevent Georgia from forcing a decisive fifth frame.
     
    Visit UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information on the UK volleyball team. For additional coverage of the volleyball squad be sure and check out CatScratchesBlog.com/volleyball.



    Alabama Takes Out Auburn in Straight Sets


    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On Senior Day for the Alabama volleyball team, the Crimson Tide posted a 3-1 (25-22, 25-17, 11-25, 25-14) Southeastern Conference win over rival Auburn on Sunday afternoon from Foster Auditorium. The Tide (17-12, 6-12 SEC) posted a .246 hitting percentage in the match, while holding the Tigers (17-11, 8-10 SEC) to a .216 mark for the day.
     
    "It's our first win against Auburn since we took over the program a year ago," head coach Ed Allen said. "It's a huge win. Auburn is a very good volleyball team that's trying to get into the NCAA tournament and is really on the bubble right now. They are a quality team."
     
    Alabama got off to a great start in the match, posting a .333 mark in the opening set, en route to the three-point win, then posted a .440 mark in the eight-point second-set win. After hitting -.065 in the third set, UA closed of the match with a dominate fourth-set, hitting .268 while holding the Tigers to a .086 mark, closing the match with an 11-point win.
     
    With seniors Kayla Fitterer and Leigh Moyer making their final home appearances, Alabama snapped a six-match losing streak to the Tigers with the four-set victory.
     
    Alabama middle blockers Katherine White and Kanesha Burch combined for 21 of Alabama's 52 kills, as White tied Fitterer with 12 kills to lead the team. White and Burch, who had nine kills, made the difference in the match from the middle blocker position, as the two had just four errors on 36 swings to combine for a .472 hitting percentage. White had a .500 hitting percentage, while Burch hit .438.
     
    Laura Steiner added 10 kills and Andrea McQuaid added seven kills with a .400 hitting percentage in the match. Sierra Wilson dished out a match-high 49 assists and Cristina Arenas lead all players with 22 digs. It was Arenas' 11th match of her career with at least 20 digs.
     
    "More than anything else, we were more consistent in every facet of the game today," Allen said. "Our ball control didn't break down and we served the ball extremely well. We put a lot of pressure on their serve and receive, which prevented them from what they like to do, which is be very aggressive with their attacks. Being out of system, they weren't able to take the types of swings they normally like to take."
     
    Auburn's Sarah Bullock led all players with 15 kills and Katherine Culwell had a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs.
     
    Alabama continues Southeastern Conference action with road matches at Mississippi and Missouri next week. The Tide travels to Oxford, Miss., on Wednesday, Nov. 21, with first serve slated for 7 p.m. CT, from the Gillom Sports Center. The 2012 season wraps up with a Friday night match in Columbia, Mo., with first serve slated for 6:30 p.m. CT.



    Mizzou Takes Out Mississippi State


    STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mizzou volleyball team defeated Mississippi State, 3-0 (25-9, 25-16, 26-24), on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 18) behind a torrid offensive attack in Starkville. As a team, Mizzou hit .295 with 41 kills as junior All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) led the Tigers with 15 kills on .351 hitting while pulling in nine digs. Freshman Regan Peltier (Nixa, Mo.) was also very good with 10 kills on .269 hitting. The win improves the Tigers to 19-10 overall and 10-8 in the SEC. The Tigers rallied from down 20-14 in the third set to win the frame, 26-24, completing the sweep.
     
    "I was very pleased with the way we played in the first two games," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "We didn't play as well coming out of intermission, but I thought we did a great job of battling back to take the third game - being down 20-14, that is quite the accomplishment to come back from that. Now we have two matches left and we need to start preparing for a tough Kentucky team on Wednesday."
     
    Aside from Henning and Peltier, the Tigers got five kills on just eight attacks from sophomore Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) and got five more from Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.). Junior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) tallied her 19th double-double of the season with 32 assists and 11 digs in the win. Sophomore Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) tallied a team-high 14 digs in the match as well. 
     
    The Tigers took an early lead over Mississippi State, due in large part to Mississippi State making errors. The Tigers built a 17-7 lead after the offense began to fire on all cylinders midway through the first set. From there, Mizzou scored eight of the final 10 points of the set to claim the opener, 25-9. Mizzou had 10 kills on .375 hitting in the first, led by three from Peltier. Mississippi State was limited to just -.062 hitting with 10 errors and just eight kills in the opening frame.
    The Tigers again were on fire offensively in the second set, tallying 15 kills on .412 hitting with just one error as they took the second set, 25-16. Through two sets, Peltier led the Tigers with seven kills on 15 errorless attacks while Henning was just as impressive with six kills on 15 errorless attacks. The Tigers as a team hit .397 while MSU hit .175 in the set.
     
    Coming out of intermission, Mississippi State used a great defensive effort, digging a lot of ball while covering well nearly everywhere as it ran out to a 20-14 lead after frustrating the Tiger hitters. Mizzou then went on a 4-0 run after a huge kill from Peltier, but Kreklow served one off the antenna to end the rally, but Mizzou was back into the set at 21-18. From there, things stayed close until Mizzou tied the score at 23-23 after a kill from Little. MSU's Taylor Scott then hit a ball into the net to give the Tigers a 24-23 lead and Mizzou eventually claimed the set win at 26-24 after another error from Scott.
     
    Mizzou will return home for its final two matches of the regular season next week. The Tigers will host Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a match that will likely be vital for the Tigers' NCAA Tournament chances. The Tigers then host Alabama at 6:30 p.m. Friday as well. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.