No. 5 UF volleyball will get tough test tonight


Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12:10 a.m.

The Gator volleyball team hasn’t lost a regular-season home match since 2004. That streak will meet its most dangerous foes in a pair of home games starting today. 

Facts

Today’s match

Who: No. 15 Kentucky (13-1, 3-0 SEC) at No. 5 Florida (10-1, 4-0 SEC)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: O’Connell Center
Radio: 103.7 FM

No. 5 Florida (10-1, 4-0 SEC) will take on its third ranked opponent of the season when No. 15 Kentucky enters the O’Connell Center for today’s 7 p.m. match. UF is 1-1 against ranked opponents this year and is riding high after three consecutive three-game sweeps of SEC foes. But the team still has memories of last year’s loss to the Wildcats in Lexington firmly in their minds. 

“(Kentucky is) led by last year’s SEC Player of the Year in their setter (Sarah Rumely), who is a four-year starter who plays with a lot of energy,” Gator coach Mary Wise said. “They run a 5-1 offense and she’s surrounded by players who can get kills out of all different positions.” 

The Wildcats (13-1, 3-0 SEC) lead the league in hitting percentage (.292), kills per set (14.84) and assists per set (13.72). Rumely averages a league-best 11.86 assists per set. Sophomore middle blocker Gretchen Geisler is leading the SEC in hitting percentage (.381), while junior middle blocker/right-side Lauren Rapp hits .331 and sophomore middle blocker Becky Pavan has a .326 efficiency. 

“The balls that went for blocks and kills (last Sunday against Alabama) won’t go for blocks and kills against Kentucky,” Wise said after her team’s tidy sweep of the Tide. “They’re a good team and it’s hard to get balls down on them.” 

If Wise is to improve to 39-1 all time against UK, she’ll need heavy production from her super sophomores. Colleen Ward ranks fourth in the SEC in kills per set, averaging 3.54 per frame. Outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel follows with 3.05 kills per set, while right-side/setter Kelly Murphy chips in 2.83. 

Fellow sophomore Cassandra Anderson averages 1.17 blocks per set, good for third in the SEC. The 6-foot-1 inch middle blocker has either led or tied for the team lead in blocks in 10 of the team’s 11 matches. 

Against Alabama, senior Elyse Cusack became the first player in school history, and the third in the SEC record books, to eclipse the 1,800-dig mark for her career. Cusack enters today’s play with 1,808 career digs and is third in the SEC this season with 4.24 digs per set. 

The Gators wrap up weekend play Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against 12-4 Tennessee. The Lady Vols are the last team to notch a regular-season victory in the O’Connell Center, having done so in 2004. 

“These next two weeks may be the toughest four SEC matches we’ve ever played in a row,” said Wise, who takes her team to South Carolina on Wednesday and LSU next Sunday. “We’re hoping that this weekend we will have great crowds in the O’Connell Center, both Friday and Sunday.”

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