The No. 8 Gator volleyball team kicked off the final Nike Big Four Classic in stunning fashion, upsetting the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal, 3-1 (28-26, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22). Florida received double-digit kill contributions from sophomore outside hitter Živa Recek with 19, senior middle blocker Chloe Mann with 15 and sophomore middle blocker Simone Antwi tallying 13.
Senior setter Taylor Brauneis dished out 50 assists against the Cardinal, directing the Gator offense to a .326 hitting percentage. Brauneis also scooped 11 digs for her fifth career double-double and second of the season in as many matches.
- Saturday was a game of runs with Florida taking advantage early in the match. The Gators went on a 4-0 run early in the first to lead 4-1 and took off on a 5-0 streak to come back from down 8-9 to leading 13-9. The Gators then went on a 5-0 tear to open the second stanza.
- Simone Antwi hit .706 on the afternoon, a new career high and the best hitting percentage by a Gator since Tangerine Wiggs hit .929 against Mississippi State (October 26, 2012). The Gator sophomore also stuffed four blocks for 15.0 points, also a new career best.
- The Gators opened their season 5-0, the 13th time in program history and first since 2011 (1987, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013).
- Florida is undefeated on the season (5-0) when capturing the first two sets.
- Florida had five players in double-digit digs, the first time since Florida’s five-set defeat to Tennessee last season (November 4, 2012)
TOP TEAMS: Saturday’s win was Florida’s first win over a ranked opponent since December 9, 2011 when the Gators swept No. 22 Michigan in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. It was also Florida’s highest-ranked victory since August 29, 2010, when the Gators gutted out a five-set victory over No. 2 Nebraska at the Runza/AVCA Showcase in Omaha, Neb. Saturday was Florida’s first win over Stanford since 2009, a five-set victory with the No. 5 Gators defeating the No. 11 Cardinal in Stockton, Calif.
SWEET SERVING: Taylor Brauneis’ ace to take a 22-20 lead in the first set ended Stanford’s streak of 112 straight service receptions without an error.
TURNING POINT: The Gators were down 7-4 in the fourth set but fought back behind stellar serving by Brauneis. An Antwi kill after a long rally to tie the set at 12 apiece started shifting the momentum towards the Gator bench. A Mallette-Antwi block and Brauneis service ace gave the Gators a 14-12 lead and forced a Stanford timeout. Florida kept a three-point lead throughout most of the fourth set and kept the Cardinal at bay courtesy of three Recek kills late in the fourth stanza.
RECORDS: Florida: 5-0 (3-4 all-time in Nike Big Four); Stanford: 2-1 (5-2 all-time in Nike Big Four)
MARY’S MINUTE: “The fact that we out-dug one of the best defensive teams we’ll face all year says a lot about our focus and our effort in this match. The double-digit kills from an offensive standpoint are fantastic. Živa and Chloe are our mainstays but a huge match for Simone to play this well in this environment. I think we build on it. We have a whole lot of volleyball left but we’re going to rely on this video and what happened in this match to help us over the course of the season.”
UP NEXT: The Gators match up with newly-minted top-ranked Penn State at 11 a.m. ET Sunday with the tape-delayed Longhorn Network broadcast featuring Paul Sunderland and Nell Fortner at 6 p.m. ET. Penn State dropped a five-set thriller to host No. 6 Texas in the opening match of the Nike Big Four Classic Saturday.
NITTANY LION TO WATCH: Junior setter Micha Hancock was recently named MVP of the Penn State Invitational after a strong weekend against Syracuse and Louisville. Hancock tied for third on the squad in kills with five against Syracuse, posting a .556 hitting clip. She also dished out 30 assists, while pacing the team to a .313 hitting percentage. Against Louisville, Hancock registered eight service aces, two kills and seven digs against the Cardinals to round out the weekend.
ALL-TIME: Penn State leads the all-time series (7-3) with a 4-3 record under Wise. The last Florida-Penn State match was also under the Nike Big Four umbrella, as the Nittany Lions defeated the Gators in four in the inaugural Nike Big Four Classic in 2010. That victory was Penn State’s last of their record-breaking 109-match winning streak before Stanford snapped their stretch with a four-set victory on the final day of competition.
Article courtesy of UF Communciations