Florida volleyball shuts out Auburn
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.
Fifth-ranked Florida started slow but finished fast Friday night, defeating Auburn, 3-0, behind the strong all-around play of outside hitter Ziva Recek, a stellar defensive effort led by libero Taylor Unroe and 20 combined kills from middle blockers Simone Antwi and Chloe Mann.
Tennessee at Florida, 1:30 p.m., Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Sun Sports
Playing before an O'Connell Center crowd of 2,525, the Gators, who won by scores of 25-20, 25-16, 25-12, improved to 19-2 overall and 8-1 in SEC play, while the Tigers, who had a three-game winning streak come to an end, slipped to 12-8, 3-5.
“It was fun playing in front of our home crowd again,” said Recek, who finished the match with eight kills and only one error on 19 attempts, a .368 hitting percentage and 14 digs.
“Coming off the loss last weekend (Sunday to Missouri), we really wanted to just focus on tonight's game and just forget about last weekend. It was a good win.”
UF appeared a bit too excited to be back in the O-Dome early-on, as the Gators struggled to find their rhythm on offense.
Auburn took advantage and battled to force a back-and-forth first set that featured eight ties and three lead changes, with the Tigers holding strong and down by only one at 22-21 late in the set.
A kill by Mann, however, put UF up by two, and Unroe closed it out with back-to-back service aces.
Set two was more of the same, with Florida finally getting some breathing room by scoring five straight points with Recek serving to extend a 15-10 lead to 20-10. But the stubborn Tigers answered with a five-point run of their own to close within 20-15 and force a Florida timeout.
That would be as close as Auburn would get, as UF scored five of the last six points in the set, capped by an ace by Taylor Brauneis, one of seven by the Gators on the night.
By set three, UF was clicking on all cylinders, jumping out to a 12-3 lead and never looking back en route to completing the shutout, with sophomore setter Mackenzie Dagostino closing out the match with back-to-back kills.
“In the first set, we really just had a hard time getting on track offensively,” coach Mary Wise said. “We were just a little bit out of sync, maybe pressing too hard on that end. But the defense was the mainstay tonight.
“The play of our back row — Taylor Unroe was solid, as was Ziva in her play on the back row. Our serve-block-dig game was the difference maker until we got on track offensively.”
Antwi led all players with 11 kills, three blocks (one solo, two assists) and 14 points, while Mann, who had another errorless performance, posted a match-high .562 hitting mark and was right behind with nine kills and three block assists for 10.5 points.
Thanks to a .379 hitting percentage in the final set, UF finished the match hitting .260 while holding Auburn to a .042 mark.
The Tigers were led offensively by five kills each from Stephanie Campbell and Emily Klitzke, but it was reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Sarah Wroblicky (12 digs) who drew UF's praise.
“Their libero was all over the place,” Dagostino said. “She is a great player, so she did a great job of covering the court and hiding their players that had trouble playing us on defense.”
The Gators will go for the SEC home weekend sweep when they host Tennessee Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The match will be carried live on Sun Sports.