Gators dominate Dolphins, set up match with 'Noles


Florida defenders Taylor Brauneis, left, and Chloe Mann jump to block the shot by Jacksonville hitter Emily Laskelle during the first round match on Thursday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:56 p.m.

Behind match-high marks of 15 kills and a .700 hitting percentage from senior All-American middle blocker Chloe Mann, sixth-ranked Florida improved to 28-3 on the year with a 25-19, 25-15, 25-16 sweep of Jacksonville in a first-round NCAA Tournament match Thursday before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,251.

Facts

FLORIDA VOLLEYBALL

THURSDAY'S RESULTS
Florida State def. Georgia Southern, 3-0
Florida def. Jacksonville, 3-0
FRIDAY'S MATCH
Florida vs. Florida State, 7 p.m. Radio: AM-850

With the win, UF, the No. 5 overall seed, moves on to face 16th-ranked Florida State (25-7) Friday at 7 p.m. in the O'Connell Center in second-round action with an NCAA regional berth on the line.

“The last time we played them in the second round (2010) was one of the most exciting volleyball matches ever played in the O'Connell Center,” coach Mary Wise said of Florida's pulsating 20-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 17-15 victory three years ago. “We expect the very same thing Friday night.

“We hope that we can get a huge crowd out there of Gator fans that, even if they're not following volleyball on a day-to-day basis, they have a chance to see Florida versus Florida State.”

JU (30-4) came out fired-up and took an early 5-2 lead, but UF, which hit .355 for the set, managed to fight back and pull out a hard-fought win.

The Gators started getting in sync in set two, hitting .480 and leading wire-to-wire to take a 2-0 lead.

With their season on the line, the Dolphins fought hard in set three, but the Gators, who made just three hitting errors in the last two sets, were rolling offensively by then and hit a blistering .607 in set three to close out the match.

“I think they (JU) put up a good defensive effort,” said Mann, the former Eastside standout who had just one error in 20 attempts and paced the Gators to an impressive .476 hitting mark as a team.

“The more the match wore on, we got into a better flow offensively. Our passers did a better job of putting up good balls for Taylor (Brauneis), who distributed awesomely tonight. As we got more in the flow of things, things started to run more smoothly.”

Sophomore outside hitter Ziva Recek turned in a solid all-around effort, finishing with 11 kills, a .375 hitting mark, seven digs, a solo block and three block assists for 14.5 points, second only to Mann's match-high 16.5 points. Redshirt sophomore Noami Santos-Lamb (seven kills, .667), sophomore Simone Antwi (six kills, .545) and freshman Alex Holston (six kills, .417) all had big games offensively, as did Brauneis, UF's senior setter who dished out 43 assists to tie her season-high for a three-set match.

Defensively, redshirt junior libero Taylor Unroe led the Gators with nine digs, while junior and former Ocala Vanguard standout Holly Pole added eight to lead UF to a 38-28 advantage.

Florida's taller front line also controlled the nets, finishing with seven team blocks to one for the Dolphins, who were held to a team hitting mark of just .175.

JU was led by nine kills each from outside hitters Sammie Strausbaugh and Kylie Jacob while senior setter Kendall Courtney finished with 24 assists and six digs.

“We played a really good team on their home court,” second-year JU coach Michelle Collier said. “I was proud of the way our team fought. I don't think we hung our heads. We tried to stay with them, but they take a lot out of you. They are just a tough team to beat.”

In the opener, the Seminoles had too much firepower for Georgia Southern (28-6) en route to posting their sixth straight sweep behind sophomore outside hitter Nicole Walch's double-double (15 kills, 10 digs). Senior Olivera Medic backed her up with eight kills and a team-high 14 digs, while middle blockers Sarah Burrington and Ashley Neff each had seven kills and hit .333 and .312, respectively.

The Eagles were paced by junior Kym Coley's 10 kills and .333 hitting mark. Junior Jamie DeRatt added six kills and 10 digs while sophomore Alexandra Beecher from Orlando (Bishop Moore) had a match-high 15 digs.

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