No. 1 Florida Volleyball Heads West Looking to Clinch Outright SEC Title

By: UF Sports Communiactions
By: UF Sports Communiactions

Gainesville, FL - The 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship
Florida volleyball team heads west to Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday to
square off with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Opening serve in Barnhill Arena is slated for 8 p.m. ET and the No. 1 Gators will be looking to extend the nation’s longest streak of consecutive 25-win seasons to 20 with a victory on Friday night.

The Gators (24-1, 17-0 SEC) wrapped up at least a share of the
program’s 19th SEC Championship last Sunday with a sweep of
Alabama, coupled with Kentucky’s five-set upset of LSU in Lexington,
Ky. Florida can clinch the conference championship outright with either
one victory or one loss by the Tigers. The Gators have three matches
remaining on the 2010 regular-season slate.

Florida is off to its best 25-match start since the since the 2003
season, when the Gators also were 24-1 through 25 matches and later
advanced to the NCAA championship match. Florida is ranked No. 1 in both the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll and the Volleyball
Magazine poll for a school-record sixth consecutive week and for the
11th time in program history. The Gators are 22-1 all-time when playing
in the nation’s top spot.

“This will be as big of a weekend for us as we’ve had all year, to
play both of those teams on the road,” Florida head coach Mary Wise
said. “The good news is, I feel like we are playing solid volleyball
and have gotten so much better since the last time we played both of
these teams. I hope that will bear out and help us this weekend.”

The Gators rank among the nation’s top-15 in three different
statistical categories. Florida is 13th nationally in hitting percentage
(.288), 14th nationally in aces per set (1.72) and 14th nationally in
blocks per set (2.76).

Florida is led offensively by junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy
(Wilmington, Ill.), who is the SEC’s only player to rank in the
league’s top-10 individually (all matches combined) in hitting
percentage, kills per set and service aces per set. Murphy leads the
conference with 0.39 service aces per set, while ranking eighth in the
league and tops on the team with 3.16 kills per set. She also is fourth
in the league in hitting percentage with a .373 clip. Murphy has
accumulated six triple-doubles and 20 double-doubles, including 12
consecutive double-dips.

Senior outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) and junior
outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) follow with 2.43 kills
per set apiece, while Rivers ranks second on the team in digs with 2.28
scoops per set. Both are in the top-10 in the SEC in service aces as
Rivers is fourth with 0.31 aces per set, while Jaeckel is sixth with
0.29 aces per set.

Three Florida players average better than 0.9 blocks per set as junior
middle blocker Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) ranks second in
the league with 1.19 blocks per set, while senior middle blocker Lauren
Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) is seventh in the league with 1.07
rejections per set. Sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle,
Wash.) is third on the team with 0.99 blocks per set.

Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) dishes out a squad-best
5.56 assists per set, while senior libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.)
is ninth in the SEC with 3.55 digs per set.

The Gators and Razorbacks meet for the 32nd time in the history of the
two programs. Florida leads the all-time series 29-2 after first meeting
Arkansas during the 1994 season when UA added volleyball to its
athletics program. From 1995-99, the Gators and Razorbacks met annually to determine the SEC Tournament title.

Arkansas enters Friday’s match in fourth place in the SEC Western
Division with a 13-15 overall record and a 7-10 mark in SEC play. The
Razorbacks have won four of their last six contests, but dropped a pair
of 3-0 decisions on the road at Kentucky and Tennessee this past
weekend. Arkansas boasts a 7-4 home record and has won three consecutive home matches.

The Razorbacks are led offensively by sophomore outside hitter Jasmine
Norton, who leads the SEC (all matches combined) in kills per set with
3.92. Junior outside hitter Kelli Stipanovich and sophomore middle
blocker Janeliss Torres-Lopez follow with 2.32 and 1.80 kills per set,
respectively.

Torres-Lopez leads her team and ranks fifth in the SEC in blocks per
set with 1.11, while sophomore setter Cassie Clarke averages a team-high 8.19 assists per set, which ranks fifth in the league. Freshman libero
Brooke Fournier averages a team-high 3.06 digs per set.

QUICK NOTES
● Florida will be looking to extend the nation’s longest streak
of consecutive 25-win seasons to 20 with a victory on Friday night. The
Gators currently have won 25 or more matches in 19 consecutive seasons.
● The Gators, who on Sunday clinched at least a share of the
program’s 19th Southeastern Conference Championship, need one more
victory in their final three matches in order to lock up the outright
SEC Championship.
● Florida is ranked No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches
Association Poll for a school-record sixth consecutive week and for the
11th time in program history. The Gators are 22-1 all-time when playing
as the nation’s top-ranked squad.
● Florida’s 627 victories since the start of the 1991 campaign
lead the nation during that span.
● Head Coach Mary Wise is an impressive 303-12 (.962) vs. SEC
regular-season opponents during her 20-year tenure with the Gators.
● The Gators rank among the nation’s top-15 in three different
statistical categories. Florida is 13th nationally in hitting percentage
(.288), 14th nationally in aces per set (1.72) and 14th nationally in
blocks per set (2.76).
● Florida is the only team in the league to have three players
rank among the SEC’s top-10 individually in service aces per set (all
matches combined). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy leads the SEC
in aces per set with 0.39. In conference matches only, Murphy averages a
league-best 0.47 service aces per set.
● Murphy is looking to become the 17th player in program history
to reach the 1,000-kill plateau for her career. Murphy has 953 career
kills and needs 47 more put-downs to reach 1,000. She currently ranks
tied for 19th all-time in school history in career kills. She is tied
with Connie Wolter who accumulated 953 put-downs from 1987-88.
● Senior libero Erin Fleming eclipsed the 600-dig plateau for her
career last Thursday night vs. Mississippi State and now has 617 career
scoops.
● Junior middle blocker Cassandra Anderson ranks second in the SEC
with 1.19 blocks per set and is seventh in the league with a .347
hitting efficiency.


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