UF volleyball caps weekend with sweep of Georgia

Senior setter Taylor Brauneis (8) ranks 11th in the NCAA in assists (11.86/set).

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 7:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 7:24 p.m.

Second-ranked Florida closed out its first SEC home weekend in style, following up Friday's 3-0 sweep of No. 15 Kentucky with a 25-15, 25-15, 25-18 sweep of Georgia on Sunday before an O'Connell Center crowd of 2,209.

It was UF's 12th straight win and ninth straight sweep. The Gators (17-1, 6-0) have yet to lose a set in SEC play.

“Offensively we got really good play out of everybody, but I think the tone of the match was set with Holly Pole's dig early-on in set one,” coach Mary Wise said. “Georgia took a very good rip, and Holly just stepped in there and made not only a dig, but it was a quality dig, and we went from defense to offense.

“That's how we're trying to evolve as a team. From that, the energy just kept going, and we really made some nice defensive plays.”

The Bulldogs (14-4, 4-2), whose 14 wins match their total from last season, came into the match having won six of their last seven. But UF never allowed them to get in any offensive rhythm as the Gators converted an impressive 82 percent (41-of-50) of their side-out opportunities..

“The phrase we use is 'one-and-done,'” Wise said. “The server goes back one time, and then we rotate. It's hard for opponents to gain momentum because that's how you really gain momentum is on service runs.

“Credit our passers and our offense. Even if it wasn't a first-swing kill, we were able to win the rally. This team is showing more and more patience that way.”

UF again showed excellent balance. After having four players in double-digit kills in the win over the Wildcats, the Gators had three Sunday, with senior All-American middle blocker Chloe Mann and freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston sharing match-high honors with 11 apiece.

Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Simone Antwi had 10 kills, while sophomore outside hitters Ziva Recek and Gabby Mallette added eight and seven, respectively.

“What we're evolving into is a team that's hard to guard because of our ability to get kills out of different positions,” Wise said. “We've become less one-dimensional.”

Holston, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week who had a match-high .667 hitting mark Friday, led all players again, this time with a .714 mark.

The left-hander finished the weekend with 24 kills, only two errors and a .688 hitting percentage.

“If Alex isn't the SEC Offensive Player of the Week this week, then someone has had a career weekend,” Wise said. “Her numbers are just eye-popping. These numbers would be outstanding if they were by a senior, but it' s a freshman, and not a freshman middle. Maybe in a junior or senior middle, but not in a pin hitter who's a freshman.”

Four Gators – Holston, Mann (.588), Antwi (.444) and Recek (.316) – hit .300 or better. As a team, UF hit .366, the 15th time in 18 matches this season Florida has topped the .300 mark.

The Gators also were impressive defensively, holding the Bulldogs to an .032 mark, the 14th time this year UF has held an opponent below .200.

Redshirt junior libero Taylor Unroe led the way with a match-high 14 digs, and senior setter Taylor Brauneis added 10 digs to go with a match-high 43 assists for her fourth double-double of the season.

Georgia's leading scorer was senior outside hitter Brittany Northcutt with seven kills.

“It was good serving, good defense, good setting – just good effort across the board, and we all played well together,” Antwi said. “It was really two big wins this weekend against two really good teams, so that will help us for the rest of the season.”

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