UF volleyball sweeps Gamecocks
Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 9:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 9:50 p.m.
Playing for the first time in 10 days following a bye week, No. 5 Florida clearly was excited to take the court Wednesday evening for an SEC home match against South Carolina.
The Gators came out strong, running away with the first two sets behind hitting marks of .455 and .583 to win by scores of 25-15 and 25-9 and then staged a come-from-behind 25-22 win in set three to seal a 3-0 sweep before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,603.
“I'd like to think the first two sets were indicative of the progress we've made in taking advantage of a weekend of not playing,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “I think human nature is what happened (in set three). You just beat a team 25-9.”
The final set featured four lead changes and nine ties, the last at 22-all before UF closed it out on a kill by senior Chloe Mann, followed by a South Carolina attack error and a Taylor Unroe ace at match point, her second and the Gators' seventh of the night.
Sophomore Ziva Recek led the way for UF (23-2, 12-1) and just missed a double-double with match-high marks of 15 kills and nine digs. She also had a match-high three aces and led all players with 18 points.
“I was just staying focused through the whole game,” Recek said. “I wasn't worried about if I made some silly mistakes. I just kept swinging high and hard.”
The Gators hit .372 for the match while holding the Gamecocks to a .059 mark.
Redshirt sophomore Simone Antwi had eight kills and matched Recek's .500 hitting percentage, while Mann had seven kills and hit .400. Sophomore Gabby Mallette and freshman Alex Holston each added six kills.
Defensively, junior Holly Pole and sophomore Nikki O'Rourke each had eight digs while Unroe added seven. Mallette and Antwi each had three blocks.
Senior Juliette Thevenin, who came into the match leading the SEC in kills with 408, paced the Gamecocks (12-14, 3-10) with eight kills, while former Buchholz standout Gabby Rubeis, a freshman defensive specialist, had five digs.
With the win, UF, playing the first of three big home matches over a five-day span, stayed hot on the heels of No. 7 Missouri, which is coming to the O'Dome for a top-10 SEC showdown Friday at 7 p.m.
“Friday night, it's going to take the entire kitchen sink,” Wise said. “This Missouri team is as talented a team as we've faced in the O'Connell Center in years, and it all starts with their setter (Molly Kreklow). She's one of the best setters in the country and that offense goes through her, and it is elite.”
The unbeaten Tigers (29-0, 13-0) handed Florida its only conference loss of the season in a 3-1 decision in Columbia on Oct. 20.
Friday will be 'Gator 5K-Pack the O'Dome' night, with the first 1,000 fans receiving free Point Florida t-shirts. The match will be carried live on Sun Sports.
“They're a great team, but we are, too,” said sophomore Mackenzie Dagostino. “If we play our best, then we'll be fine.”
The Gators close out the homestand against Alabama (20-7, 7-5) at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“It's not just Friday night, it's Sunday against the most improved team in the league with one of the premier freshmen in the league (middle blocker Krystal Rivers),” Wise said. “We talked about this being a three-match week. It's one down, and we hope we can get a huge crowd Friday night and then come back on Sunday.”