Sept. 8, 1997
Balanced Attack Leads #2 Florida Volleyball Past #20 Notre Dame, 3-1
Notre Dame, Ind. - Aurymar Rodriguez' 18 kills led four University of Florida players in double figures as the #2-ranked Gators powered their way past #20 Notre Dame 15-7, 10-15, 15-6, 15-3 in top-25 volleyball action Monday at the Joyce Center.
Florida (7-0) enjoyed a significant hitting edge (.333-.222) while totaling 13 blocks to Notre Dame's nine. Rodriguez, a 6-1 sophomore hitter, hit .316 on 38 swings while posting a match-high 16 digs. The Gators also received key offensive contributions from senior hitter Jenni Keene (14 kills, .500), senior middle Nina Foster (12 kills, .381) and junior middle Jeni Jones (11 kills, .450). Foster had a match-high eight blocks (two solos) while sophomore opposite Jenny Manz had a solid all-around effort of nine kills, six block assists and a match-high three aces.
"What is allowing us to be successful is that a team may be able to stop one of our hitters but they are not going to stop all of them," said Florida head coach Mary Wise. "Rodriguez was our main go-to player and she did a great job offensively and defensively. Fortunately, she didn't have to carry the load alone. This was a great road win."
Both teams struggled with their serving, as Notre Dame had just two aces to offset 14 service errors while Florida had eight aces but 16 service errors. The '96 Irish team was the first Notre Dame team ever to serve more aces than errors in a season.
Senior hitter Jaimie Lee led Notre Dame in kills for the fourth straight match, with a match-high 20 kills on .375 hitting (5 errors, 40 attempts). It was Lee's ninth career 20-plus kill match, moving her into fourth on that Notre Dame career list.
Senior hitter Angie Harris added 11 kills for the Irish but also had nine errors (.053) while sophomore middle Mary Leffers--a native of Tampa, Fla.--had nine kills on .308 hitting (1 err., 26 att.), plus six blocks.
Rodriguez led UF's .350 hitting explosion in the opening game, recording seven kills and just one error on 13 swings in game one. The Irish then tied the match during an emotional second game, in which the hosts outhit the visitors .436-.219. Leffers had five kills on as many attempts in that second game while Lee had nine kills and just one error on 11 swings to help knot the match at 1-1.
The pivotal third game featured a balanced Gators offense, as the team's 13 kills included four each from Rodriguez and Keene while Jones and Foster had two each. The Gators regained their hitting prowess in game three (.375) and that rolled over to the final game, when UF enjoyed its best hitting game of the match (.389) behind Rodriguez (5 kills, 2 errors on 11 att.) and Jones (4 kills, 0 errors on 5 att.).
Harris' 11 kills pushed her past '89 grad. Mary Kay Waller (1,188) into fifth on the Irish career kills list with 1,189, just four behind fourth-place Maureen Shea (1985-88). Lee's four block assists leave three blocks shy of joining former teammate Jenny Birkner (1993-96) as the only players in the Notre Dame career top 10 for kills, hitting pct., digs, assists, aces and blocks.
Notre Dame senior hitter Jaimie Lee: "I think we've underachieved. We've had great opportunities and we haven't played well. With the BIG EAST schedule, we need to win more in our non-conference schedule. ... Our emotional intensity wasn't consistent. It was there in game two and it wasn't there in game four. You don't get to play the second-ranked team twice in a season and our intensity needed to be here tonight. ... We have a lot to do and we're fired up to do it."
Notre Dame Head Coach Debbie Brown: "Our effort was good, but our intensity could have been better throughout the game. As a group, we need to be more intense. I never question our effort, but the staff has to do a better job of bringing intensity to the gym everyday. ... (The fourth game) was real disappointing. I felt we only started to play when we were down 11-2, and when you're playing the second-ranked team in the country, that is too late to start playing."