The No. 17 Florida women's volleyball team overcame deficits against both Missouri and Northern Iowa in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament to beat the Tigers and Panthers on consecutive nights. With the wins, the Gators advance to the NCAA Regionals to be played in Gainesville on December 9-10. Florida will face Michigan at 7:00 p.m. on Friday.
Playing at Northern Iowa, Florida fell behind 0-1 to Missouri on Friday night as the Tigers took the first set, 25-23. The Gators would storm back,winning three in a row — 25-16, 25-20, 25-16 — to take the match, 3-1. Florida's seniors were the stars, as they have been for much for the season: Kristy Jaeckel had 19 kills and 14 digs, Kelly Murphy notched her 28th career triple-double: 10 kills, 12 digs, 28 assists. The future of the Gators' squad looked great as well. Freshmen Taylor Unroe and Holly Pole set career-highs, Unroe with 23 digs and Pole with 20.
Against host UNI on Saturday night, Florida fell behind 0-1 again. The Panthers took the first set 25-16, but the Gators would take the next three — 25-14, 25-14, 25-22 — to again win 3-1. Murphy fell just short of another triple-double, but finished the night with her 74th career double-double, notching 15 kills and 20 assists. Unroe continued her start to what will surely be a great career, leading all Gators with 16 digs.
Before Florida faces Michigan on Friday night, Illinois will play Ohio State in the first match of the Gainesville Regional at 5:00 p.m.; both matches can be viewed on ESPN3.com. The winners face off at 7:00 PM on Saturday in a match that will be featured on ESPNU.