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Gators avenge loss to Rams

Written by gcstaff, December 6, 2008, 0 Comments,
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The Florida women’s volleyball team had a little revenge on its mind Saturday night, and coach Mary Wise’s Gators moved into the NCAA tournament regional semifinals in dominating fashion.

The No. 11 Gators, who lost to Colorado State 3-0 back in September in Fort Collins, returned the favor Saturday at the O’Connell Center with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23) victory over the No. 22 Rams.

The Gators (27-3) advance to play No. 2 Stanford (28-3) next Friday. The Cardinal defeated Long Beach State, 3-0, in a second-round match at Stanford. The Florida-Stanford match will be played on Colorado State’s home court of Moby Arena in Fort Collins.

The Gators knew much more was at stake against Colorado State than in their previous match against Florida A&M. Florida beat FAMU, 3-0, but was a little sloppy in the early going. Saturday against the Rams, the Gators were much more composed.

“There was a calm confidence in the locker room,” Wise said. “There was just a maturity level and a confidence level because the team understood what we needed to do to win. They bought into the game plan and I thought they showed terrific patience throughout the entire match.”

The match opened with a frantic back-and-forth pace, with several lead changes as both teams fought for control of the net with blocks and powerful swings. But Florida was able to pull away at the end of the first set and never looked back.

“It was pretty good volleyball, the fact that there were so many lead changes,” Wise said. “The first time we played them, we had served for set point and we weren’t able to win, and I think that, too, is another indication of how much we have improved since September.”

Colorado State came into the match touted for its blocking ability, but the Gators were able to neutralize this strength and actually turn it to their advantage. The Gators won the block battle 9-5.

“The key stat in the whole match is the fact that Colorado State, one of the best blocking teams in the country, was held well below its average and only had five blocks in the match,” Wise said. “I don’t know which stat is more surprising, the fact that we had nine blocks or the fact that they had only five. Both are pretty amazing.”

The Gators carried momentum into the second set during which they dominated the Rams and capitalized on several miscues. The Rams seemed flustered after losing the first set, hitting nine errors and recording a lowly .105 attack percentage in the second set.

“What we weren’t counting on were some of the unforced error points that Colorado State made, and we benefited from that,” Wise said. “But the service errors, the net errors, some things that were uncharacteristic for Colorado State, it’s one thing to be given those points and it’s another thing to take advantage of them. I thought we were very low error today.”

Colorado State didn’t go down without a fight, battling down to the wire in an epic third set. The teams traded points until Florida finished what it started, not giving the Rams a chance to claw back.

“Our concern at that point in time was that their great senior setter was serving,” Wise said. “If we could just get one side out then we would have a chance. It was a kill by Lauren Bledsoe. She didn’t have her best offensive night, but she got a kill when it was a critical time in the match.”

The Gators only committed 11 errors to Colorado State’s 21 and scored a .266 attacking percentage compared with .205 for Colorado State.

Sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers led the way for Florida with 11.5 points, recording 9 kills for a .133 attack percentage and 5 digs. Freshman right-side setter Kelly Murphy posted 10.5 points with 8 kills for a .353 attack percentage and 5 digs.

“I think that we’ve just been preparing all week, or really all season, for a big match like this,” junior libero Elyse Cusack said. “We knew exactly what we had to do. I think the mood in the locker room was just let’s not talk about, let’s go do it. We were ready to just get out there. To win it in three is just a bonus. It was one of the best victories I’ve ever played in.”

The Gators were fueled by the raucous crowd at the O’Connell Center. With the football SEC Championship Game ending just before the match, the crowd was sparse, but they more than made up for it in noise level.

“If they were here tonight, they were big-time volleyball fans because we could all just go around and individually thank them,” Wise said. “We know them all or at least we’ve seen them. That is a group that put volleyball ahead of other things today and we give them a lot of credit for coming out tonight.”

The seniors helped put on quite a show for their loyal fans to go out winners in their last match at the O’Connell Center.

“It definitely came through my mind on that last point,” senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers said. “I told my team it couldn’t have ended on a better note, with a win. Fond memories.”

Brad Goldbach, a Gator County.com intern, wrote this story.

NCAA WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

DIVISION I

SECOND ROUND

Saturday

At State College, Pa.


Penn State 3, Yale 0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-12)

At Seattle, Wash.

Washington 3, Santa Clara 0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-21)

At West Lafayette, Ind.

Purdue 3, Middle Tennessee State 2 (25-18, 24-26, 25-18, 22-25, 15-8)

At Austin, Texas

Texas 3, Wichita State 0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-20)

At Dayton, Ohio

Western Michigan 3, Tulane 2 (20-25, 25-21, 13-25, 25-19, 15-12)

At Lincoln, Neb.

Nebraska 3, UAB 0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-12)

At Washington, D.C.

Oregon 3, North Carolina 1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 25-19)

At Clemson, S.C.

Utah 3, Clemson 0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-21)

At Gainesville, Fla.

Florida 3, Colorado State 0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23)

At Champaign, Ill.

Illinois 3, Cincinnati 0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-22)

At Minneapolis, Minn.

Iowa State 3, Minnesota 1 (25-14, 26-24, 25-27, 25-19)

At Los Angeles

Hawaii 3, Southern California 0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-22)

At Los Angeles

UCLA 3, Duke 0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-17)

At Stanford, Calif.

Stanford 3, Long Beach State 0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-15)

At Berkeley, Calif.

California 3, New Mexico State 1 (25-23, 25-13, 21-25, 25-17)

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

PENN STATE REGIONAL

At State College, Pa.

Friday, Dec. 12


Penn State (34-0) vs. Western Michigan (28-6)

Illinois (26-7) vs.California (25-6)

WASHINGTON REGIONAL

At Seattle, Wash.

Friday, Dec. 12


Washington (26-4) vs. Utah (26-5)

Michigan (26-8) vs. Nebraska (29-2)

TEXAS REGIONAL

At Austin, Texas


Friday, Dec. 12

Texas (27-3) vs. UCLA (22-10)

Oregon (25-8) vs. Iowa State (21-12)

COLORADO STATE REGIONAL

At Fort Collins, Colo.

Friday, Dec. 12


Hawaii (30-3) vs. Purdue (26-8)

Florida (27-3) vs. Stanford (28-3)

REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

PENN STATE REGIONAL

At State College, Pa.

Saturday, Dec. 13


Penn State-Western Michigan winner vs. Illinois-California winner, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)

WASHINGTON REGIONAL

At Seattle, Wash.

Saturday, Dec. 13


Washington-Utah winner vs. Michigan-Nebraska winner, 11:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

TEXAS REGIONAL

At Austin, Texas

Saturday, Dec. 13


Texas-UCLA winner vs. Oregon-Iowa State winner, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

COLORADO STATE REGIONAL

At Fort Collins, Colo.

Saturday, Dec. 13


Hawaii-Purdue winner vs. Florida-Stanford winner, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

NATIONAL SEMIFINALS

At Omaha, Neb.

Thursday, Dec. 18


Penn State Regional winner vs. Washington Regional winner, 7 or 9 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Texas Regional winner vs. Colorado State Regional winner, 7 or 9 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

At Omaha, Neb.

Saturday, Dec. 20


Penn Stata Regional/Washington Regional winner vs. Texas Regional/Colorado State Regional winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

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The Florida women’s volleyball team had a little revenge on its mind Saturday night, and coach Mary Wise’s Gators moved into the NCAA tournament regional semifinals in dominating fashion.

The No. 11 Gators, who lost to Colorado State 3-0 back in September in Fort Collins, returned the favor Saturday at the O’Connell Center with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23) victory over the No. 22 Rams.

The Gators (27-3) advance to play No. 2 Stanford (28-3) next Friday. The Cardinal defeated Long Beach State, 3-0, in a second-round match at Stanford. The Florida-Stanford match will be played on Colorado State’s home court of Moby Arena in Fort Collins.

The Gators knew much more was at stake against Colorado State than in their previous match against Florida A&M. Florida beat FAMU, 3-0, but was a little sloppy in the early going. Saturday against the Rams, the Gators were much more composed.

“There was a calm confidence in the locker room,” Wise said. “There was just a maturity level and a confidence level because the team understood what we needed to do to win. They bought into the game plan and I thought they showed terrific patience throughout the entire match.”

The match opened with a frantic back-and-forth pace, with several lead changes as both teams fought for control of the net with blocks and powerful swings. But Florida was able to pull away at the end of the first set and never looked back.

“It was pretty good volleyball, the fact that there were so many lead changes,” Wise said. “The first time we played them, we had served for set point and we weren’t able to win, and I think that, too, is another indication of how much we have improved since September.”

Colorado State came into the match touted for its blocking ability, but the Gators were able to neutralize this strength and actually turn it to their advantage. The Gators won the block battle 9-5.

“The key stat in the whole match is the fact that Colorado State, one of the best blocking teams in the country, was held well below its average and only had five blocks in the match,” Wise said. “I don’t know which stat is more surprising, the fact that we had nine blocks or the fact that they had only five. Both are pretty amazing.”

The Gators carried momentum into the second set during which they dominated the Rams and capitalized on several miscues. The Rams seemed flustered after losing the first set, hitting nine errors and recording a lowly .105 attack percentage in the second set.

“What we weren’t counting on were some of the unforced error points that Colorado State made, and we benefited from that,” Wise said. “But the service errors, the net errors, some things that were uncharacteristic for Colorado State, it’s one thing to be given those points and it’s another thing to take advantage of them. I thought we were very low error today.”

Colorado State didn’t go down without a fight, battling down to the wire in an epic third set. The teams traded points until Florida finished what it started, not giving the Rams a chance to claw back.

“Our concern at that point in time was that their great senior setter was serving,” Wise said. “If we could just get one side out then we would have a chance. It was a kill by Lauren Bledsoe. She didn’t have her best offensive night, but she got a kill when it was a critical time in the match.”

The Gators only committed 11 errors to Colorado State’s 21 and scored a .266 attacking percentage compared with .205 for Colorado State.

Sophomore outside hitter Callie Rivers led the way for Florida with 11.5 points, recording 9 kills for a .133 attack percentage and 5 digs. Freshman right-side setter Kelly Murphy posted 10.5 points with 8 kills for a .353 attack percentage and 5 digs.

“I think that we’ve just been preparing all week, or really all season, for a big match like this,” junior libero Elyse Cusack said. “We knew exactly what we had to do. I think the mood in the locker room was just let’s not talk about, let’s go do it. We were ready to just get out there. To win it in three is just a bonus. It was one of the best victories I’ve ever played in.”

The Gators were fueled by the raucous crowd at the O’Connell Center. With the football SEC Championship Game ending just before the match, the crowd was sparse, but they more than made up for it in noise level.

“If they were here tonight, they were big-time volleyball fans because we could all just go around and individually thank them,” Wise said. “We know them all or at least we’ve seen them. That is a group that put volleyball ahead of other things today and we give them a lot of credit for coming out tonight.”

The seniors helped put on quite a show for their loyal fans to go out winners in their last match at the O’Connell Center.

“It definitely came through my mind on that last point,” senior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers said. “I told my team it couldn’t have ended on a better note, with a win. Fond memories.”

Brad Goldbach, a Gator County.com intern, wrote this story.

NCAA WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

DIVISION I

SECOND ROUND

Saturday

At State College, Pa.


Penn State 3, Yale 0 (25-18, 25-11, 25-12)

At Seattle, Wash.

Washington 3, Santa Clara 0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-21)

At West Lafayette, Ind.

Purdue 3, Middle Tennessee State 2 (25-18, 24-26, 25-18, 22-25, 15-8)

At Austin, Texas

Texas 3, Wichita State 0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-20)

At Dayton, Ohio

Western Michigan 3, Tulane 2 (20-25, 25-21, 13-25, 25-19, 15-12)

At Lincoln, Neb.

Nebraska 3, UAB 0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-12)

At Washington, D.C.

Oregon 3, North Carolina 1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 25-19)

At Clemson, S.C.

Utah 3, Clemson 0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-21)

At Gainesville, Fla.

Florida 3, Colorado State 0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-23)

At Champaign, Ill.

Illinois 3, Cincinnati 0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-22)

At Minneapolis, Minn.

Iowa State 3, Minnesota 1 (25-14, 26-24, 25-27, 25-19)

At Los Angeles

Hawaii 3, Southern California 0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-22)

At Los Angeles

UCLA 3, Duke 0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-17)

At Stanford, Calif.

Stanford 3, Long Beach State 0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-15)

At Berkeley, Calif.

California 3, New Mexico State 1 (25-23, 25-13, 21-25, 25-17)

REGIONAL SEMIFINALS

PENN STATE REGIONAL

At State College, Pa.

Friday, Dec. 12


Penn State (34-0) vs. Western Michigan (28-6)

Illinois (26-7) vs.California (25-6)

WASHINGTON REGIONAL

At Seattle, Wash.

Friday, Dec. 12


Washington (26-4) vs. Utah (26-5)

Michigan (26-8) vs. Nebraska (29-2)

TEXAS REGIONAL

At Austin, Texas


Friday, Dec. 12

Texas (27-3) vs. UCLA (22-10)

Oregon (25-8) vs. Iowa State (21-12)

COLORADO STATE REGIONAL

At Fort Collins, Colo.

Friday, Dec. 12


Hawaii (30-3) vs. Purdue (26-8)

Florida (27-3) vs. Stanford (28-3)

REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

PENN STATE REGIONAL

At State College, Pa.

Saturday, Dec. 13


Penn State-Western Michigan winner vs. Illinois-California winner, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)

WASHINGTON REGIONAL

At Seattle, Wash.

Saturday, Dec. 13


Washington-Utah winner vs. Michigan-Nebraska winner, 11:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

TEXAS REGIONAL

At Austin, Texas

Saturday, Dec. 13


Texas-UCLA winner vs. Oregon-Iowa State winner, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

COLORADO STATE REGIONAL

At Fort Collins, Colo.

Saturday, Dec. 13


Hawaii-Purdue winner vs. Florida-Stanford winner, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

NATIONAL SEMIFINALS

At Omaha, Neb.

Thursday, Dec. 18


Penn State Regional winner vs. Washington Regional winner, 7 or 9 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Texas Regional winner vs. Colorado State Regional winner, 7 or 9 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

At Omaha, Neb.

Saturday, Dec. 20


Penn Stata Regional/Washington Regional winner vs. Texas Regional/Colorado State Regional winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

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