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Friday, March 01, 2024

Last season Kelly Murphy broke the school record for most triple-doubles in a career, this season she broke the school record for most triple-doubles in one weekend.

She finished this weekend with two triple-doubles in as many matches.

Murphy's big performances helped lead No.10 Florida (18-3, 12-2 Southeastern Conference) to two conference wins over the weekend including a hard-fought sweep of Mississippi State 3-0 (25-23, 27-25, 25-22) on Sunday.

She made it look easy against the Bulldogs with 11 kills, 25 assists and 10 digs, notching her NCAA-leading seventh triple-double of the season.

But the victory didn't come as simple. Mississippi State (6-19, 2-13 SEC) kept the first set close and nearly won the second set as fatigue started to factor in for the Gators.

"They extended the rallies but I do think we looked a little gassed, and that's something we'll have to address as a staff," coach Mary Wise said. "It's a point in the season where there really is no rest."

After finding itself trailing 17-23 in the second set, UF needed four kills by sophomore outside hitters Kristy Jaeckel and Colleen Ward late in the frame to storm back.

Mississippi State bounced back and pushed Florida to the brink once more in the final set until the Gators used two straight points to win after being up 23-22.

Jaeckel posted 10 kills and 13 digs for a double-double.

"I give Kristy a lot of credit," Wise said. "She was right there just one behind Elyse in digs. We ask a whole lot out of her."

Wise said the most important player in the match was junior opposite hitter Lauren Bledsoe, who tallied 11 kills on only 14 swings despite playing sparingly since the loss against LSU on October 11.

"It's not easy to start and to not start, but we just thought it was a good matchup for her in terms of what Lauren does best," Wise said. "I couldn't be more proud of Lauren in the way she has responded and how she has taken advantage of her playing time."

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On Friday, UF once again was able to find a way to sweep an opponent despite being challenged throughout the match as it beat Alabama (7-17, 5-9 SEC) in straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 33-31).

Murphy notched a triple-double that night with 10 kills, 23 assists and 15 digs, and Jaeckel's match-high 16 kills led the Gators to the win.

Senior libero Elyse Cusack dug up a season-high 24 balls Friday in one of her best matches of the season.

For the first time in eight matches the Gators were outblocked, as the Crimson Tide won the blocking battle 6-3.

After winning six straight matches and 18 straight sets, UF still controls its conference destiny as Florida is just one match behind first place.

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