Florida Volleyball Sweeps BC in Season Opener

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 9 University of Florida volleyball benefited from 14 service aces and nine total blocks to defeat Boston College, 3-0 (25-11, 25-15, 25-16), to open the 2011 season at the O'Connell Center on Friday night. The Gators, hosting the Active Ankle SEC/ACC Challenge, move to 20-8 all-time in lid-lifters and notched their eighth consecutive victory in a season-opening match.

"Obviously, the 14 aces jump out in terms of our jump servers getting in a really good groove," Florida head coach Mary Wise said. "That will happen when you're capable, but some nights, you won't be able to generate points behind the service line...(so) we have to be better in blocking and defense. For the first match of the season, lots of people got playing time and lots of people with little experience got playing time, which was good."

Seniors Stephanie Ferrell (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Kristy Jaeckel (Littleton, Colo.) contributed seven kills apiece, while fellow senior Cassandra Anderson (Bakersfield, Calif.) added six kills hitting at a match-high .667 clip.

"The biggest difference in Steph's game compared to last year is she's a more patient hitter," Wise said. "Now she's learning that you can take the ball the other way; not every ball has to be an 80 mph kill...although a lot of her seven kills were. You see the energy she plays with. She has a smile that can light up the entire O'Connell Center. It's the rest of her game that we're so pleased with and how far she's come in other areas."

Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.) and sophomore setter Chanel Brown (Tempe, Ariz.) combined for 27 assists, while redshirt freshman libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) had a match-high nine digs in her collegiate debut.

The Gators took an early 3-0 lead over the Eagles in the first set, sparked by Taylor Unroe's service ace, the Gators' first of the season. Anderson started off the attack for Florida with a hit down the pipe and Wiggs followed with a kill of her own, clipping the line, to extend the Gators' lead at 8-2. The Eagles struggled to return the majority of the Orange and Blue's offense, falling in the first set, 25-11, hitting only .062 in the opening stanza to Florida's .556.

Florida began the second set in similar fashion, with both Jaeckel and Unroe serving up back-to-back aces in the opening points, giving the Gators a 6-1 lead. A monster kill by Ferrell extended the Orange and Blue's lead to 7-1, forcing a timeout by Boston College head coach Chris Campbell. Unroe continued her serving streak, thanks to an Anderson-Murphy stuff block, before Dureva Tsvetelina halted the Gators' run with a kill down the line. The teams traded points until Anderson got behind the service line, running off four straight serves to put the Gators ahead, 15-6. Mann and Jaeckel teamed up for a block to extend Florida's lead to double digits, an advantage they would keep through the rest of the set. The two sides continued to trade serve until set point came on a Boston College service error, giving the Gators a two-set advantage heading into intermission.

The third set started out a little tight for the Gators, as the teams traded points until 5-5 in the third stanza. Brown sparked a 5-0 run behind the service line for Florida, giving the Orange and Blue a 10-5 advantage and shifting the momentum to the Gators' side. The teams continued to trade possession through the third set as players came off the bench for both sides. A key element to the Gators' attack in the third set was the power of Ferrell, who had three kills in the final stanza. Her smash at 16-9 to end a long rally sent the O'Connell Center crowd, including the animated Rowdy Reptiles, on their feet. Ferrell's seventh and final kill of the night came on match point, a slam right in the middle of the Eagles' defense, sending the Gators off with their first victory of 2011.

Florida continues the Active Ankle SEC/ACC Challenge on Saturday evening when the Gators take on the North Carolina Tar Heels at 7:30 in the O'Connell Center. The match will be streamed live online on GatorVision and fans can tune into WRUF-FM, 103.7 The Gator, to hear to Tom Collett and former Gator All-SEC selection Missy Whittemore call the action live.

NORTH CAROLINA SWEEPS Auburn IN OPENING MATCH In the opening match of the Active Ankle SEC/ACC Challenge, the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Auburn Tigers, 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 28-26). North Carolina's Emily McGee had a match-leading 13 kills, while teammate Chaniel Nelson contributed eight. The Tar Heels' Cora Harms led the match with 22 assists and teammate Kaylie Gibson contributed a match-high 13 digs. On the Auburn side, Chloe Roward had a match-high six blocks and Brittney Rhude had a team-high eight kills. Auburn's Christina Solverson and Chelsea Wintzinger teamed up for 18 assists, while Vesela Zapryanova and MacKenzy Harper led the Tigers with 10 digs apiece.

Auburn meets Boston College in the first match of Saturday evening, as the Tigers and the Eagles face off at 5:30 p.m. in the O'Connell Center. The doors open at 4:30 p.m.

Fightin Gators Top Stories