Volleyball sweeps Hogs for 9th straight win
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.
Friday night’s Southeastern Conference match between division leaders Florida and Arkansas turned into a Gator block party.
Who: Kentucky at Florida
When: 3 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSN, 103.7 FM
Redshirt senior Betsy Smith and redshirt junior Chloe Mann, UF’s starting middle blockers, combined for four solo blocks and nine assists to key a season-high team mark of 16.5 blocks as the 11th-ranked Gators won their ninth match in a row with a 3-0 sweep of the Razorbacks before an O’Connell Center crowd of 2,123.
The 16.5 blocks are the most in a three-set match since Nov. 25, 2006, enabling UF to hold Arkansas to a season-low .119 hitting mark.
“On a night where we just had a tough time getting untracked offensively — a lot of which had to do with Arkansas — the story was the defense,” coach Mary Wise said.
“Betsy Smith, she was so good, especially early. Our two middles, when you look at how many blocks they were a part of, they really controlled the net.”
Florida, the leader in the SEC East and overall, improved to 12-2 overall and remained the only unbeaten team in league play at 6-0, while Arkansas, which came in on a four-match winning streak and was in a tie with Texas A&M atop the SEC West, slipped to 13-4, 4-2.
UF entered the match leading the nation in hitting percentage with a .327 mark but struggled early. In a hard-fought opening set that featured 11 ties, the Gators trailed 13-9 before rallying for a 25-23 victory.
Arkansas scored four of the first five points in set two, but UF again responded behind its dominant defense and took a 25-18 win.
Having just taken a five-set thriller from the Razorbacks two weeks ago on the road, the Gators wanted no part of another marathon and put together their best offensive effort of the night in set three, hitting at a .382 clip to close out the match with a 25-14 win.
“They played tough,” Smith said. “There was never really once that we felt comfortable. We knew going into the locker room before set three that we were going to have to come out with our best game.”
Redshirt sophomore libero Taylor Unroe had a match-high 13 digs and two aces, and with the help of sophomore defensive specialists Maddie Monserez (nine digs) and Holly Pole (six digs), UF posted a 45-41 edge in digs.
Offensively, freshman Ziva Recek led the Gators with 13 kills and a .345 hitting percentage, both match-high marks, while adding two solo blocks, two block assists and six digs in an impressive all-around effort.
Mann finished with 11 kills, seven of them in the decisive third set, while freshman Gabby Mallette and Smith each had six.
“I think as the game progressed, I feel that as a team, we all got better,” Mann said. “We got a little more comfortable on the court.”
Arkansas was led by Jasmine Norton and Amanda Anderson, each with nine kills, and Liz Fortado, who had eight kills and a team-high .312 hitting mark.
Kentucky (10-6, 4-2), winner of four straight, visits the O-Dome Sunday for UF’s first televised match of the season (Fox Sports Florida) at 3 p.m.