Volleyball Stuns No. 7 Florida, 3-2, in Gainesville
Sept. 19, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Marquette University women's volleyball program claimed its first win in program history over a top-10 opponent with a 3-2 victory (26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-13) over No. 7 Florida on Friday evening at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.
A Meghan Niemann kill gave the Golden Eagles (7-3) the victory in the fifth set as MU combined to hit .467 (10-3-15) in the final frame. MU trailed 10-9 in the fifth before three-straight points gave Marquette the cushion it would need to finish Florida off 15-13.
"I think our offense really got it rolling in the fifth, that was the biggest thing, and I thought we controlled the first ball well," Marquette first-year head coach Ryan Theis said. "We served well - I thought Nele (Barber) had a couple of great serves and changed the momentum earlier in the fifth and she finished it off. It was a great team win. Everyone at times contributed and a lot of people scored in different ways. The offense got going in the fifth and that was what we needed."
Sophomore outside hitter Autumn Bailey notched a match-high 15 kills as one of three Marquette players in double figures, to go along with 13 digs. Classmate Nele Barber posted 12 kills and senior right-side hitter Lindsey Gosh posted 13 kills, six digs and seven blocks. The Golden Eagles also received a match-best 20 digs from libero Lauren Houg.
The Gators (5-3) were led by right-side hitter Alex Holston's 13 kills, while freshmen Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder each added 11 kills. Alhassan, the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week, also posted 10 blocks in the loss.
"We really stayed mellow throughout the course of the match and got fired up (when we needed it)," Theis said. "Meghan Niemann did a great job with that. It would be quiet on our side for three or four points and it would be tied. You've got to celebrate and have fun when it's tied and appreciate the fun ones. Win or lose you are going to get a battle so let's make it fun. Meghan led us in that and Lauren played some great defense throughout the match and stuck to our game plan. Fortunately we scrapped it out."
The Golden Eagles built a six-point edge midway through the opening set and fought off numerous advances by the Gators for a 26-24 win. Marquette led 20-14 on a UF service error before the Gators ripped off six-straight points to knot the frame at 20 on a ball handling error by Mary Nilles.
UF never led after the 20-20 tie in the first as Niemann answered with a kill on the ensuing action. Although the Gators fought off set point, 24-23, following a Bailey kill, MU closed out the stanza with the next two points and hit a combined .344 (16-5-32).
Florida used a 6-1 run in the second frame to wrest control and eventually capture a 25-20 victory. MU trailed by just two points, 15-13, before the UF run, but was unable to overcome a hitting efficiency of just .086 in the set.
Barber pushed the Golden Eagles to a 25-21 victory in the third set and a 2-1 match edge with four kills and a block. Marquette broke free from a 13-13 tie with a kill from Barber and lengthened its lead to ultimately seven points, 22-15, after a UF timeout. Barber ended the frame on her 10th kill of the match, while Houg thwarted numerous UF attackers on her way to six digs in the set.
The Gators used a 7-1 run in the middle of fourth set to even the match at two sets apiece with a 25-20 victory. MU hit -.027 in the fourth and could not recover from a 18-12 deficit.
The Golden Eagles had dropped their previous 12 contests to ranked foes, with the last victory a 3-1 decision over No. 23 Michigan on Sept. 7, 2012 at the Al McGuire Center. MU previously lost to then-No. 18 Colorado State and then-No. 8 Florida State this season.
Theis spent two seasons (2006-07) as an assistant coach at Florida under head coach Mary Wise.
Marquette returns to action on Saturday against UCF at The Venue in Orlando at 2 p.m. Central time.
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