UF volleyball rallies to reach NCAA second round
Published: Friday, December 2, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 2, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The No. 17 Gator volleyball team stormed back from a loss in the opening set to defeat future SEC opponent Missouri, 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-16), in NCAA first-round action on Friday evening on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.
What: NCAA Tournament second round
Who: Florida vs. Northern Iowa
When: 8:30 p.m.
Florida improves to 25-5 on the year, with tonight's win giving the Gators a nation-leading 21st consecutive 25-win season. UF advances to play the host UNI Panthers, who defeated Niagara in three sets in the second match of the evening. The two teams will face off in the second round of the NCAA Championship today at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“When the draw came out, we thought this would be our hardest first-round match in our tenure at Florida and it certainly lived up to that billing,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Give credit to Missouri, the pace at which they play, how well-coached they are. They are very young.”
Florida's seniors led the way, as All-SEC first-team selections Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy notched a double-double and a triple-double, respectively. Jaeckel tallied a match-high 19 kills to go along with 14 digs for 21.5 points against the Tigers.
Murphy, a Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist and three-time All-American, registered her 28th career triple-double with 10 kills, 28 assists and 12 digs for 13.0 points.
The Gators' back row play was a highlight of Friday evening, as two career highs were set by a duo of Gator freshmen. Redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe registered a career-high 23 digs against the Tigers, adding three assists and two service aces. Freshman defensive specialist Holly Pole reached a new career high in digs in the first set alone, notching 10 scoops in the opening stanza. She recorded 20 digs on the evening as a whole.
The Gator middles came up big down the stretch, as sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann notched 11 kills and three blocks for 12.5 points while junior middle blocker Betsy Smith narrowly missed her career high in blocks with seven. Smith added an errorless six kills for 10.0 points, her eighth errorless performance of the season. Junior right-side Tangerine Wiggs recorded seven kills and four blocks on the evening and sophomore setter Chanel Brown, along with Murphy, directed the Gator offense with 53 combined assists against Mizzou.