Host Florida wins tournament

Published: Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 11:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 11:23 p.m.

Fifth-ranked Florida got a stern test Saturday night from Western Michigan, but survived with a 25-21, 25-22, 28-30, 25-18 win before an O'Connell Center crowd of 2,245 to capture the tournament title at the 3rd Active Ankle Challenge.

Led by a double-double from tournament MVP Ziva Recek (21 kills, 10 digs), the Gators, who had swept Iona earlier in the day by scores of 25-14, 25-12, 27-25, improved to 7-1 on the season heading into their big non-conference clash with No. 16 FSU at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the O’Dome.

“It was a long weekend in general and we were really tired in the end, but we had to finish strong,” Recek said. “We just came back on the court and wanted that last game.”

Florida placed five players in double-digit kills in the win, with senior Chloe Mann and sophomore Gabby Mallette backing up Recek with 15 apiece while freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston added 12 and redshirt sophomore Simone Antwi had 11.

“This is what we've come to expect,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “A team like Western Michigan with nothing to lose and a program that wins 20 or more matches every year is going to come in here and play well, and they played very well.”

The Broncos (6-4) were paced by sophomore middle blocker Stephenee Yancy's 20 kills and 15 from Claire Gerwig, but the real difference-maker was libero Lena Oliver, who led all players with 29 digs.

“She was terrific,” Wise said. “You take away her play, what she did with her defense and with her passing, and it would change the whole complexion of the match.”

In Saturday's other matches, Georgetown (6-5) rallied from two sets down for a 3-2 win over Western Michigan (16-25, 19-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-10) in the only five-set match of the tourney behind 20 kills from Lauren Saar, then came back to beat Iona (1-8) by a 3-1 count.

Joining Recek on the All-Tournament team were teammates Mann and Taylor Brauneis, Western Michigan's Yancy, Georgetown's Caitlin Brauneis and Iona's Catrina Warren.

Following Tuesday's date with the Seminoles, the Gators head to the Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee, Wisc., where they will take on the host Golden Eagles on Friday at 8 p.m. and Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 7 p.m. Saturday in their final pre-SEC tuneup.

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