Volleyball seniors gun for title
Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 12:17 a.m.
Win or lose this weekend in the NCAA Gainesville Regional, Florida senior All-Americas Kelly Murphy and Kristy Jaeckel will leave their marks all over the Gator volleyball record books.
What: Gainesville Regional
Where: O'Connell Center
Who: Illinois vs. Ohio State, 5 p.m.; Michigan vs. UF, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Call the Gator Ticket Office at 352-375-4683.
While the duo would like nothing better than to lead the Gators to their first NCAA regional title since 2003, they plan on enjoying every remaining moment regardless.
“It's the time of season that you're supposed to be having a lot of fun,” said Murphy, a three-time All-America who was a first-team pick last season as well as the 2010 SEC Player of the Year. “We're just really enjoying these last matches with our teammates.”
“It's definitely weird that it's our turn to be seniors,” said Jaeckel, who garnered her first All-America honor (honorable mention) last year and is likely headed for higher accolades in 2011.
“It feels like just yesterday we got here as freshmen. But it is a very special time of the season, and we're just going out there and having a great time with each other.”
Murphy may well be the most complete player ever at UF. The 6-2, left-handed right-side hitter and setter came to UF as the top volleyball prospect in the country, and the Wilmington, Ill., native is the only player in program history to record 1,000 career kills and 2,000 career assists.
A finalist for the 2011 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, Murphy smashed the school career record for triple-doubles. It stood at four when she arrived on campus four years ago. She broke it her freshman year and now holds the mark at 28 — and counting.
Jaeckel, a 6-2 outside hitter from Littleton, Colo., joined the 1,000 career kills club this season and is enjoying her best year as a Gator. She leads UF in kills (372), service aces (48) and solo blocks (19), while Murphy leads in assists (651) and is second in kills (267) and aces (38). In addition, Jaeckel and Murphy rank 2-3 in digs with 249 and 244, respectively.
“Kristy's a fifth-year senior who plays like it,” head coach Mary Wise said. “She's doing so much for us. Kelly's done that for us for four years.”
Their contributions off the court have been just as invaluable.
“They have just been terrific in terms of their relationships with the young kids that come to our matches,” Wise said. “It's something that we really embrace and is unique to volleyball in that the sport, unlike most others, lends itself to allowing the fans to come down on the floor.”
Wise knows she has something special.
“It is so valuable to have two complete players,” she said. “What we're all going to do is sit back and watch where they're going to sign professionally overseas and hope we get invited to go see them play.”
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.