Short-handed UF volleyball sweeps UGA
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 1:28 a.m.
Florida’s aggressive serving is a high-risk, high-reward style.
Friday night against Georgia, it paid some big dividends.
The 13th-ranked Gators recorded nine aces, highlighted by a career-high four from sophomore and former Ocala Vanguard standout Holly Pole and three from redshirt sophomore libero Taylor Unroe, en route to a 3-0 sweep of the Bulldogs before an O’Connell Center crowd of 2,289.
“This week in practice, we really worked hard on serving and passing,” Unroe said. “It gives momentum to everyone on defense. Serving is the one thing you can do by yourself to help the team, so it feels really good.”
With their 25-15, 25-23, 25-14 win, the Gators improved to 19-3 overall and remained unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play — and atop the league standings — with a 13-0 record.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, fell to 13-10, 7-6.
Redshirt junior middle blocker and former Eastside star Chloe Mann was her usual dominant self, putting down a match-high 14 kills on 21 swings with just one error for a match-high .619 hitting mark, while freshman Ziva Recek, who was moved to a new position due to an injury to fellow freshman Gabby Mallette, responded with her fifth double-double of the year (12 kills, 11 digs).
UF also got a big boost from freshman outside hitter Berkley Whaley, who stepped into Recek’s role on the left side and had five kills, two blocks and hit a season- and career-high .455 with no errors.
“Berkley Whaley was just terrific for us,” UF head coach Mary Wise said. “She was solid in so many aspects. She was low-error, the two blocks, the five kills. She didn’t have to lead us in any one statistical category. She just needed to stabilize the lineup for us in Gabby’s absence, and she more than answered the call tonight.”
UF held a 44-37 edge in digs, led by Recek’s 11 and Unroe’s eight, and registered eight blocks, led by four (one solo, three assists) from redshirt senior and team captain Betsy Smith, who entered the match in set two — her first appearance since suffering an ankle injury against FSU on Oct. 24.
“The digs are what gives us a lot of energy,” Smith said. “As hitters, when our back row defense is putting up great balls, we need to work even harder because of how hard they’re working. We feed off each other in that aspect.”
Junior outside hitter Brittany Northcutt led Georgia with 13 kills, but the Bulldogs were held to a hitting mark of just .086 for the match while UF, which got a match-high 33 assists from junior setter Taylor Braunheis, hit .277.
“This win, people on the outside probably won’t look at it as big a deal as we know it is with all of the injuries we had this week,” Wise said. “The first time Betsy jumped was tonight in a week and a half. Gabby being out, we had some other players out that were missing practice. The good news is with so many injuries and so few people who could jump, we knew we could work on our serving. So that was a positive because we served much better tonight that we did earlier.
“If we can continue building on that, that will definitely help our defense.”
The Gators have a short turnaround before hosting defending SEC champ Tennessee (16-6, 9-4) on Sunday at 2 p.m.