Gainesville, FL - The No. 2 University of Florida volleyball team
heads west this weekend for a pair of Southeastern Conference matches,
traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to face Alabama at 8 p.m. ET Friday and
to Starkville, Miss., to take on Mississippi State Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
ET. Friday’s match will be carried live on ROCK 104 (103.7 FM), while
Sunday’s match will be aired live on GatorVision Online and WRUF-AM
850 with Cory Stephens handling the play-by-play.
The Gators (12-1, 5-0 SEC) are on a seven-match winning streak and are
coming off a pair of wins against No. 16 LSU and Arkansas at home this
past weekend. Florida leads the SEC in both blocks per set (2.67) and
service aces per set (1.73) and is the conference’s only team to have
three players rank in the league’s top-10 in service aces.
Florida, which played nine of its first 12 matches against teams ranked
in the AVCA’s top-25, is No. 1 in the NCAA’s first release of the
Women’s Volleyball Ratings Percentage Index.
“The challenge is now to go on the road this weekend at Alabama and
Mississippi State,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “We
understand this is the last year Alabama is playing in its small
auxiliary gym and I’m sure it will be packed. We expect a huge crowd
on Friday night as there always is there. Sunday will be a challenge at
Mississippi State facing one of the leading blockers in this league
[Ashley Newsome]. 2-0 weekends are hard to come by in this league and we
were fortunate to be one of the teams that were able to do that last
The Gators are led offensively by junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy
(Wilmington, Ill.), who leads the team and ranks 10th in the SEC with
3.06 kills per set on .358 hitting, which ranks fifth in the league.
Murphy also is third in the SEC in service aces with 0.39 per set,
making her the only player in the SEC to rank in the league’s top 10
in kills, aces and hitting percentage simultaneously.
Junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) and senior
outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) follow with 2.41 and
2.19 kills per set, respectively. Rivers is fourth in the SEC with 0.33
service aces per set, while Jaeckel is ninth in the SEC with 0.29
service aces per set.
Jaeckel became last Sunday just the 20th person in school history to
reach 2,000 career attacks. Through 74 career matches, Jaeckel now has
2,016 career attacks. Marcie Hampton (2004-07) is UF’s all-time leader
in career attacks with 4,204.
Freshman setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.), the reigning SEC Freshman
of the Week, leads the team with 5.33 assists per set, while senior
libero Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) heads the squad’s back-row effort
with 3.54 digs per set.
Florida is led by a dominant blocking brigade that ranks 21st in the
nation with 2.67 rejections per set. The Gators feature three players
averaging better than 0.9 blocks per set, led by junior middle blocker
Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.), who is fifth in the SEC with
1.17 blocks per set. Senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach,
Calif.) follows with 1.04 blocks per set, which ranks seventh in the
SEC, while sophomore right-side Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) adds
0.92 rejections per set.
This weekend’s opponents are two of four SEC foes that Wise has never
lost to during her tenure at Florida. The Gators are 30-0 against
Alabama under Wise and 27-0 vs. Mississippi State.
The Gators and Crimson Tide meet for the 33rd time in the history of
the two programs, with Florida leading the all-time series 32-0,
including a 30-0 tally under Wise.
Alabama enters Friday’s match in last place in the SEC Western
Division with an 8-7 overall record and an 0-5 mark in league play. The
Crimson Tide are led by sophomore outside hitter Kayla Fitterer, who
ranks seventh in the SEC with 3.31 kills per set. Senior right-side
Alyssa Meuth and freshman outside hitter Brianne Vande Griend follow
with 3.06 and 2.54 kills per set, respectively. Sophomore libero Kelsey
Anderson ranks third in the SEC with 4.96 digs per set, while senior
setter Kayla Schmidt is ninth in the league with 6.33 assists per set.
Head coach Judy Green is in her 15th and final season at the helm of
the Alabama program, having announced prior to the season that she will
be retiring at the end of the 2010 campaign. Green has a record of
234-222 (.513) during her time at Alabama and a 630-296 (.680) record in
her 25th season as a collegiate head coach, having spent 10 seasons
directing the program at Montevallo.