UF wins volleyball invitational

Published: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 8:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 8:21 p.m.

Florida coach Mary Wise approached Saturday's championship match of the 2013 Campus USA Credit Union Invitational against Duke with a keen eye on how her No. 9 Gators would perform after getting tested by a feisty LIU-Brooklyn squad in a 3-1 win Friday night.

After UF swept the Blue Devils by a 3-0 count before an O'Connell Center crowd of 3,323, the verdict was two thumbs up.

“Often times you learn more when your team struggles, and (Friday) night we struggled just by showing some impatience offensively,” Wise said. “I think today we showed great patience. We evolved as a team as much as any team in less than a 24-hour period is capable of doing.”

UF (3-0), which won by scores of 25-16, 25-17, 25-18, was led by senior All-American middle blocker Chloe Mann (15 kills, .652 hitting percentage) and sophomore outside hitter Ziva Recek (10 kills, .400), but it was the play of freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston (six kills, .545) that was the buzz following the tournament.

The 6-foot-1 lefty from Olney, Md., joined Mann and Recek on the All-Tournament team with a UF freshman opening-weekend record hitting percentage of .436, breaking Recek's .421 mark set last year.

“She's a natural right-side player, and the other players that we were giving time on the right side are more natural left-side players,” Wise said. “Alex has played the position her whole life.”

UF hit .415 as a team while holding Duke (2-1) to a .198 mark.

Senior setter Taylor Brauneis racked up 33 assists with four kills, four digs and three block assists, while redshirt sophomore Simone Antwi added six kills and hit .385.

Emily Sklar, who led the Blue Devils with 12 kills and a .423 hitting mark, joined LIU-Brooklyn's Annika Foit, New Orleans' Lauren Levy, and UF's Recek, Mann and Holston on the All-Tournament team.

Mann, who had 35 kills in 54 attacks with only one error (.630) in UF's three wins, was named Tournament MVP for the second straight year.

In the first game of the day, LIU-Brooklyn (1-2) swept New Orleans (0-3) for third place, winning by scores of 25-15, 25-17 and 25-6.

UF hits the road for three matches this week, facing Texas-San Antonio Thursday at 5:30 pm. before squaring off against No. 3 Stanford and No. 2 Penn State on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, at the Nike Big Four Classic in Austin, Texas.

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