Late Sunday afternoon, Tennessee upset Florida 25-21, 20-25, 25-21, 19-25, 18-16, ending the Gators' 24-match winning streak in SEC play. Florida had won its first two conference matches this season, after going a perfect 20-0 in the SEC a year ago and winning its final two league matches of 2009 (UF volleyball archive).
Not that it's been a terrible season for Florida, but the Gators already have two home losses thus far, the Tennessee match and a September 5 setback to Iowa State (Florida's only other loss was at Stanford in the final of the Big Four Classic).
Senior Kelly Murphy, a setter in Florida's two-setter offense and a powerful left-handed hitter from the right-hand side of the court, has been the Gators' leader in recent years. She was down against Tennessee, hitting only .171 on 10 kills and 4 errors in 35 spike attempts. That prompted me to see how Murphy was doing overall thus far into the 2011 campaign.
As seen in the graph below, Murphy is not hitting as well (statistically) as she did a year ago, but it's all relative. Last year, she hit a stellar .374 and this season has fallen to "only" .342. Her share of the Gator hit attempts is the lowest it's been in any of her four years, by a small amount.
An optimistic note for Gator fans is that Murphy has the potential to raise her already high hitting percentage and (pending the strategizing of coach Mary Wise) her number of hit attempts.