The No. 13 Florida Gators went on the road to defeat SEC opponent Ole Miss, 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-11) tonight in the Gillom Sports Center in Oxford, Miss. Florida is now 14-3 on the year and 7-1 in SEC play, while the Rebels fall to 5-12 for the season with a 1-8 record in conference matches. Florida held Ole Miss to a hitting percentage of just .165 on the night.
The Gators were led by Lowe’s senior CLASS finalist setter and right side hitter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) who hit a match-high .500, knocking down seven kills, 22 assists and seven digs. Junior right side hitter Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) and senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) each notched 12 kills apiece as Wiggs hit a .455. Senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) registered eight kills off of a .417 clip.
Leading the Florida defense was redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) who scoped up a match-high 14 digs while freshman defensive specialist Madison Monserez (Orlando, Fla.) added seven of her own. Sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) contributed 16 assists for the Gators.
The first set was a hard fought battle, as there were eight ties throughout the stanza. Early on, points were exchanged back and forth until Ole Miss jumped out to a two-point lead, 10-8. The Gators responded with a 4-0 run ignited by a kill from Wiggs. Attack errors on the Rebels aided the Gators in gaining the momentum and a 13-10 lead. Ole Miss then called a time out but the Gators didn’t give up the lead the rest of the set. A kill by Ferrell ended the first set in Florida’s favor, 25-23.
Wiggs was a huge factor in the second stanza, as the junior collected six kills in the set. Florida jumped out to a 10-6 lead but Ole Miss chipped away at points, pulling to within one at 19-18. Kills from Ferrell, Jaeckel and Wiggs stopped the Rebels’ momentum as Wiggs put down final kill to close out the second set, 25-21 giving Florida a 2-0 advantage at intermission.
The Gators erupted out of break as Florida gained a 5-1 lead that extended to 14-7, before the Rebels were forced to call a timeout. Ole Miss was kept to a .000 hitting percentage in the third set as Unroe registered eight of her 14 total digs in the final set. The Gators closed out the match in impressive fashion, scoring their highest sideout percentage and hitting percentage of the match in the third set at 81 percent and .476, respectively. The Gators took the final set and match, 25-11.
Leading the Rebels was the SEC’s top hitter, senior middle blocker Regina Thomas as she put down seven kills and shared the match high of .500 with Murphy. Junior outside hitter Allegra Wells led Ole Miss with a team high of nine kills. Junior setter Amanda Philpot was their most diverse player of the night, leading the match with 24 assists, smacking three kills and hitting the floor for five digs.
Senior defensive specialist Morgan Springer controlled Ole Miss’ backcourt with 12 digs and junior defensive specialist Ashley Veach dug in for five.
The Florida Gators travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Sunday to take on the Crimson Tide (10-10, 3-6 SEC) in the Foster Auditorium. The Crimson Tide rolled over South Carolina in a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-17, 25-23) on Friday night. The first set will begin at 2:00 p.m. and will be airing live on FOX SportSouth. For the Gator fans that will be not be around a television set, a live broadcast of the match will be airing on Country 103.7 The Gator.
Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.