Florida volleyball sweeps Mizzou

Published: Friday, September 21, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 12:51 a.m.

Behind freshman Ziva Recek’s third career double-double, the 13th-ranked Florida Gators ruined Missouri’s Southeastern Conference road opener with a 3-0 sweep of the Tigers before an enthusiastic O’Connell Center crowd of 3,592 Friday night.

With their hard-fought 25-22, 26-24, 25-17 win, the Gators (9-2, 3-0) won their sixth straight match while handing the Tigers (10-3, 2-1), who had won seven of their last eight, their first SEC loss.

“It was an interesting match,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “I wouldn’t say that either team was particularly sharp. There were some great effort plays and there was some good volleyball, but it was like two basketball teams that were playing fast break, fast break and were just not hitting some shots.”

Both teams came in ranked among the nation’s top 10 in hitting, but neither team hit better than .200 until the third and final set when the Gators finally found the range and hit .412 to bring their mark for the match up to .237.

The Tigers finished with a .139 hitting mark, with the two teams combining for 40 hitting errors.

“We felt that if we could just control the first contact and make some good hitting decisions, there were kills to be had,” Wise said. “That was the difference in the third set.”

Recek led all players with 15 kills and added 11 digs, while redshirt junior Chloe Mann had 12 kills and led the Gators with a .348 hitting mark. Senior Tangerine Wiggs added nine kills, while junior setter Taylor Brauneis played an exceptional all-around match, finishing with a match-high 35 assists to go with eight digs, three block assists, and three well-timed kills.

Redshirt sophomore libero Taylor Unroe, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week, continued her outstanding play by recording a match-high 15 digs -- her 17th straight match in double figures dating back to last season.

“I think I just have to see when they (opponents) are off balance,” Brauneis said of her misdirection kills. “If they’re off balance, then I know it’s a good time to dump it and be offensive.

“In the end it was a team win. We just really needed one of those wins, and we got it.”

Sophomore middle blocker Whitney Little and junior outside hitter Lisa Henning each had 10 kills for the Tigers, with the 6-foot-3 Little turning in a tremendous effort in defeat, posting match-high marks for hitting percentage (.364), solo blocks (five), block assists (five) and points (17.5).

During the intermission between the second and third sets, the 1992 UF team that went 34-2 and was the first to reach the NCAA Final Four was honored in a 20-year anniversary ceremony.

That team, Wise’s second at UF, overcame an 0-2 deficit — and a sprained ankle sustained by All-American outside hitter Gudi Staub early in the match — to down Texas, 3-2, for the regional title in one of the most exciting matches ever played in the O-Dome.

“One of the very best parts of this job are the relationships that are made throughout their college careers and maintained and grown after they’re done playing,” Wise said. “These are players whose weddings I’ve been to, I get the birth announcements of their children, when they change jobs — they are part of the Gator family.

“They’re just a little bit closer to my age than the current players.”

The Gators will hit the road for matches against South Carolina and Mississippi State next weekend.

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