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Friday August 25, 2006No. 5 VB Claims 35th Straight Win Against Instate Rivals In Season-Opening Victory

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) finished with match-highs in kills (12) and points (14.0) as the No. 5 University of Florida volleyball team won its 35th consecutive match against instate foes with a season-opener 30-14, 30-17, 30-15 win against South Florida before a crowd of 2,122 fans on Friday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

The Gators finished with a whopping 13.5 blocks as four players tallied at least four blocks. In the 800th match in school history, Florida (1-0) had more kills (50-29), aces (5-0), digs (43-40) and blocks (13.5-1.0), while out-hitting South Florida .410-.009.

 

“Tonight’s match was a really good place to start,” said Florida head coach Mary Wise, who improved to 10-1 in season-openers at home at UF. “To get 13.5 blocks and hit over .400 was a good way to begin the season. It didn’t look like the first match of the year because there were so many bright spots. But, we’ll see if some cracks show when we play a physical Utah team tomorrow night.”

 

Junior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) also reached double-figures in kills for the Gators with 11 on 19 swings (.579 hitting). Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) ended the match with a solid line – 38 assists, seven blocks and four kills on .500 hitting. Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) also shined in her Gator debut with a match-high 17 digs.

 

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) helped the Gator block with six block assists, while adding eight kills on 11 attempts (.727 hitting), while McCray and Johnson each added four block assists.

 

The victory extended Florida’s winning streak against instate rivals to 35 matches as UF hasn’t lost a match to another team from the state of Florida since 1994.

 

USF recorded the first three points in the opening game, but after that, the Gators scored 30 of the next 41 to win the frame 30-14. Cusack helped ignite the Florida run with her strong serve as she guided the Gators back from a 4-1 deficit to an 8-4 advantage. The Gators gradually pulled away with USF never coming closer than five points after closing the gap to 12-5. After that, Florida notched seven of the next eight points to pull ahead 19-8. The game eventually ended with a McGinnis dump over the middle for a kill. The Gators out-hit the Bulls .361-.000 and tallied a whopping six blocks in the game. McCray and Johnson each led UF with four kills in the game, while Cusack added four digs and McGinnis, McCray and Bowers each tallied three block assists.

 

The second game was a near reflection of the first with UF claiming a 30-17 win. The Bulls scored four of the first seven points and led 4-3 and later 6-5 before the Gators took charge. UF reeled off five straight points with four coming on USF errors to move on top 11-6. The Bulls came within three at 13-10, but Florida then put the next seven points on the scoreboard to move ahead 20-10. Senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) held serve for the stretch, which included three kills from junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.). The game eventually was closed out on a Bull attack error. The Gators out-hit USF .500-.029 in the game with Hampton and Johnson pacing the Gators with five kills each. Cusack added a team-high five digs.

 

In the third game, the teams traded points early on before a 7-0 run midway through the game gave the Gators enough of a cushion in a 30-17 win. After the Bulls narrowed the gap to three at 13-10, Florida responded with the next seven points behind the serve of Davis. Hampton led the way with a pair of kills in the stretch as UF’s advantage grew to 20-10 and USF never threatened the rest of the way. Florida hit .385 to USF’s .000 in the third game with McCray and Johnson each recording four kills. Cusack again paced Florida with eight digs, while UF tallied nine block assists in the game led by McGinnis’ three.

 

No. 24 Utah 3, Arkansas State 0

The 24th-ranked Utes stormed the court and easily disposed of Arkansas State in the first game before things tightened up in a 3-0 (30-7, 30-25, 33-31) Utah win in the opening match of the Aquafina Invitational.

 

Airial Salvo led all players with 18 kills and 21.5 points in the match, while also hitting .395. Utah out-hit the Indians .380-.077 and finished with more digs (36-35), kills (48-34) and aces (12-5).

 

Randilyne Volkmer led Arkansas State with eight kills.

 

The Aquafina Invitational will conclude on Saturday. South Florida will face Arkansas State at 5 p.m. with the Gators to battle Utah at 7 pm. The match can be seen live on GatorVision Online, while also airing live on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com.

 

 

 

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