Gamecocks Drop Season Finale at No. 17 Florida in Three
Nov. 23, 2011
by Koby Padgett
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A strong start to the third set for South Carolina (14-16, 5-15 SEC) could not hold off No. 17 Florida (24-5, 17-3 SEC), as the Gators won the match 25-14, 25-16, 25-20 on Thanksgiving Eve in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler led the Gamecocks with 12 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin tallied eight kills. Senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund posted four kills, a career-best two aces and two block assists.
Kristy Jaeckel led Florida with 11 kills. Kelly Murphy added nine kills and 16 assists. Taylor Unroe posted 14 digs for Florida.
South Carolina put a scare into the Gators in the third set, but Florida came back to take the final frame 25-20. The Gamecocks led by as much as four on four occasions, the last at 19-15 after Thévenin put one off the block. But the Gators responded to take 10 of the final 11 points to claim the set and match. Jaeckel had four kills in the last stretch, while Murphy was credited with the final one when the Gamecocks were called for touching the net. Jaeckel had six of her kills in the final frame.
The Gators took the first set 25-14, running out to a big lead behind an 11-1 run. The end of the run came from Chloe Mann, who posted two kills and a solo block to make it 16-5. Murphy took the final three Florida points, ending the frame with a cross-court smash. The Gators hit .583 in the first frame and held the Gamecocks to a .040 mark. Wheeler did have five of South Carolina's eight digs in the frame.
Florida took an early 14-6 lead in the second set before the Gamecocks fought back, getting five-consecutive points on junior setter Taylor Bruns' serve, to draw within three at 15-12. But the Gators put things together to take the second 25-16. Stephanie Ferrell had five kills in the frame to lead Florida. Wheeler added six more digs for the Gamecocks.
The Gators won every stat category, including a .457-.105 lead in hitting and a 7-3 advantage in blocks.