UF volleyball chomps Tigers

No. 17 Florida made Senior Day an afternoon to remember by sweeping Auburn for their sixth consecutive victory in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. They defeated the Auburn Tigers 3-0 on Sunday afternoon, 25-10, 25-17, 28-26 to improve their conference record to 16-3 and 23-5 on the season.

“I just think it was a lot of fun, and at this time in the season, you’re supposed to be having a lot of fun,” Murphy said about the match. “I think we just really enjoyed these last couple of matches with our teammates, and we obviously, we hope to have a lot more volleyball to play.”

The Tigers’ record falls to 4-15 in the SEC and 10-19 overall as Florida wins their 35th consecutive match against Auburn. The Gators now lead the all-time series 38-1 with a 34-0 winning streak under head Florida coach Mary Wise.

The Gators, all-around, were more efficient on the court as they held the Tigers to a mere .167 hitting clip while they fired away on a .366 hitting percentage. Florida notched seven less service errors than Auburn and scooped up nine more digs. 

Lowe’s senior CLASS finalist Kelly Murphy and senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel brought a balanced attack to the court as they both registered a match-high of 9.5 points. Murphy notched an errorless eight kills off 13 swings to hit on a match-high .615 clip. The setter and right-side hitter also distributed the ball for 14 assists, picked up three digs and served up an ace for the Orange and Blue.

“Obviously tonight Kelly was unstoppable,” Jaeckel said. “That really came in the clutch for us in the end—her being able to get those kills and side out for us.”

Jaeckel knocked down seven kills, scooped up a match-high of seven digs, served up an ace and put up three effective blocks to aide the Gators on every position on the court.

“She scores seven kills, she digs, she get three blocks, she gets seven points,” Wise said. “That’s just who Kristy [is] in terms of her play.”

Junior right-side hitter Tangerine Wiggs registered seven kills on 11 swings hitting on a .455 clip, while senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell recorded six kills for the Gators.

Senior Cassandra Anderson earned her 400th career block this afternoon, making her way into University of Florida record books to become the eighth Gator in school history to achieve such a feat.

Junior middle blocker Betsy Smith and sophomore middle blocker Chloe Mann both performed on a .444 clip, notching five kills on nine swings. Smith picked up two digs to tie her career-high, while Mann stuffed a match-high five blocks—one being a solo effort. Sophomore setter Chanel Brown put up a match-high 15 assists to help lead the Gator offense.

“Our passing was really great and Chanel was making great decisions,” Murphy said. “I was able to have a lot of good looks over there on the right side, so just taking advantage of the opportunities that Chanel was able to give me.”

The opening stanza was the Gators’ best hitting efficiency of the match. They recorded a .600 clip and held the Tigers to a -.050 hitting percentage. The Gators jumped out to a quick 9-2 over the Tigers behind the offense of Smith and Mann, who totaled for three kills together in the first nine points. A 5-0 run then put Florida ahead 18-5 behind the service of Murphy and later a kill by Tangerine Wiggs extended the Gators’ lead to 20-7. An attacking error on Auburn closed out the set for Florida, 25-10. Ferrell, Murphy and Smith each registered two kills in the first set with no errors to hit a perfect 1.000 in the opening stanza.

The second stanza was much closer than the first one as the Tigers were the ones jumping out a quick lead at 3-1. The Gators then went on a 4-0 run behind the offense of Jaeckel to lead 5-4. Two errors on Auburn then put the Gators up by three, 10-7 and the Tigers were forced to call a time out at 13-9 after Ferrell hammered down a kill. The Gators went up 16-10 behind redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe’s service and pushed that lead to 18-10 as Smith knocked down a kill. Behind the offense of Wiggs, Florida went up 21-14. Back-to-back kills from Murphy puts the Gators at 24-16 and a service error on Auburn closed out the set in favor of the Gators, 25-17 as they went into intermission with a 2-0 lead.

The third stanza was entirely different from the other two as the Gators were playing for match point twice before Jaeckel put the ball away to end the match.

“I thought set three was more indicative of what we would have expected from Auburn,” Wise said. “In set three we made way too many service errors to really get the chance to run points, and Auburn was very low-error.”

Wiggs began the set with a kill, and Unroe served up an ace to put the Gators up 5-3. Five consecutive attack errors gave Auburn the lead for the first time in the match at 8-5. A block by Mann and Jaeckel put the Gators back up 11-10. A kill from Mann kept Florida in the lead, 13-12, and when the media called a time out, the Gators were leading 15-13. The stanza was tied at 17-17 after Auburn served up an ace and Wise called a time out to try to regroup the Gators.

The stanza was then tied four times before a kill from Ferrell put the Gators back up 23-22, forcing Auburn to call a time out. Auburn came out of the time out attacking and knocked down kills to gain the lead again 25-24, forcing Florida to call a time out. Murphy answered the call for Gators as she hammered a kill out of the time out, and Auburn made an attacking error to give Florida the lead, 26-25.

Auburn rebounded back with a kill, but an attack error set the Gators up for match point, which Jaeckel delivered to end the third set, 28-26.

“It’s good for us,” Wise said about the Tiger’s comeback in the third set. “If Auburn hadn’t played well in that third set, I don’t know how much better we would have gotten. Credit Auburn for trying it around, and credit the Gators for grinding it out and winning in three.”

The Florida Gators will be back in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. to conclude conference and regular season play against the South Carolina Gamecocks. GatorVision will be streaming video live for all Florida fans and Sportsradio 850 will be broadcasting live play-by-by updates throughout the match.

Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at