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Amber McCray collected a career best 24 kills

Friday September 29, 2006McCray Notches Career-Best 24 Kills As No. 10 VB Beats UK 3-2

LEXINGTON, Ky.

Amber McCray collected a career best 24 kills

Junior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) tallied a career-best 24 kills on .488 hitting in leading No. 10 Florida to a thrilling five-game win against Kentucky (26-30, 30-17, 30-21, 35-37, 15-10) on Friday evening before a crowd of 3,150 at Memorial Coliseum.

 

The Gators (11-2 overall, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) won their 34th consecutive match against the Wildcats (9-4, 2-3) and their 14th straight contest in Lexington. Florida recorded 18.0 total blocks in collecting at least 10.0 for the sixth-consecutive match – the first time UF has accomplished the feat since 2000. The Gators finished with more kills (73-70) and digs (91-89) while out-hitting Kentucky .195-.100.

 

“I’m so proud of this team for battling through this match,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “This team found a way to win in an electrifying environment in front of more than 3,000 fans. It truly shows just how balanced the SEC is. You’ve got to give Kentucky a lot of credit because they played us very well defensively, but Amber McCray really stepped it up with 24 kills tonight.”

 

The Gators recorded the win after a competitive game five in which Florida jumped out to a 5-2 lead and didn’t relinquish it the rest of the way. The Wildcats came within a pair at 10-8, but Florida responded with two straight points and led 12-10 after a tandem block from junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) and freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.). Kentucky again fought within a pair at 12-10, but the Gators closed out the match with the final three points as McCray ended things with a kill from the right side.

 

McCray recorded a career best 27.0 points to lead the Gators, while Killingsworth added 17 kills and 10 digs and junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) collected a double-double with 13 kills and 15 digs. Junior Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) also registered a double-double with 59 assists and 15 digs, while moving into second in Florida history for most career points by a setter with 269.5.

 

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) collected nine total blocks in surpassing five for the sixth consecutive match. Freshman Alli Checchini (Brentwood, Calif.) registered a career-best 15 digs, while senior libero Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) added 14.

 

Kentucky opened the match by scoring eight of the first 11 points before fending off a late Florida rally in a 30-26 game one victory. After the Wildcats jumped out to an 8-3 advantage the Gators battled back by notching seven of the next 10 points to pull within two points at 12-10. Hampton recorded a pair of kills in the run to pace UF. The teams sided out until the Gators tied the game for the first time at 15-15 on a UK attack error. But the Wildcats answered with six of the next seven points to surge ahead 21-16. Kentucky extended its advantage to eight at 27-19 before the Gators mounted a comeback behind a pair of kills from senior Stefanie Douglas (Belton, Texas) and a pair of blocks as UF clawed back to 28-25. Kentucky got to 29 before McCray responded with a kill from the right side to make it 29-26. But the Wildcats tallied the final point on a kill to close the game. The Wildcats out-hit the Gators .381-.323 with UF finishing with 4.0 blocks to 2.0 for Kentucky. McCray led UF with four kills on five swings in the game with Killingsworth pacing the Gators with four digs.

 

The second game was all Florida as the Gators scored the first eight points in the game en route to a 30-17 win. With Hampton opening the game serving, Florida put eight consecutive points on the scoreboard with Kentucky aiding UF with seven errors during the run. The Wildcats fought back to make things interesting with an 8-1 run as UK came within one at 10-9 and 11-10. But the Gators separated themselves with five-straight points with two coming on tandem blocks from Bowers and Hampton and one from Bowers and McCray. After UK scored a point to make it 16-11, the Gators scored thee more to move on top 19-11. The Wildcats didn’t threaten the rest of the way before the game ended when Hampton blasted a kill through the block on the left side. The Gators out-hit Kentucky .273 to -.104 in the game as UF again collected 4.0 team blocks with Bowers leading the way with one solo and three assists. Hampton and Bowers paced UF with three kills each, while freshman defensive specialist Cecchini collected a team-best six digs.

 

The Gators again started strong in the third game with six of the first seven points before cruising to a 30-21 win. With the game tied at 1-1, Florida put five consecutive points on the scoreboard with McGinnis and Johnson providing a pair a combo blocks in the process. Kentucky came within one at 7-6, but Florida responded with five straight points with Hampton collecting a kill and a block assist in the run as UF went ahead 12-6. After three Wildcat tallies, the Gators notched four more points to build their advantage to 16-9. Kentucky closed the gap to five at 23-18, but McCray answered with three straight kills as Florida went ahead 26-18. Killingsworth eventually closed out the game with a kill from the left side. McCray led all players with seven kills in the game as the Gators out-hit Kentucky .152 to -.048. Florida blocked well again with 5.0 in the game with Johnson collecting a team-best three block assists. Hampton added a game-high seven digs.

 

The Gators had eight match points fended off by the Wildcats in an epic fourth game in which Kentucky came from behind in a 37-35 win. Neither team got much separation in the opening stages of the game with Florida recording its first lead of at least three points after a kill from McGinnis on an overpass made it 27-24 Florida. The Wildcats picked up the next two points to come within one at 27-26, but Florida responded with the next two on a kill from Killingsworth and a tandem block from Killingsworth and Johnson to set up UF’s first match point at 29-26. The Wildcats fought off three straight match points to tie things at 29-29. Florida got to 30 first after a kill from Killingsworth, but UK again came back to tie things at 30. McCray then notched a kill for another match-point chance, but UK tied it on a kill. Johnson and McCray combined for a block to make it 32-31. UK tied it at 32-32 and moved in front 33-32, but Florida fought off a game point with a McCray kill from the right side. UF took the lead at 34-33 after another McCray kill, but the Wildcats again fought off a match point to tie things at 34-34. Bowers notched a kill on a slide play to move UF in front 35-34 and the Wildcats fended off their eighth match point to tie it at 35-35 before scoring the final two points to end the game. The Wildcats out-hit Florida .190-.160 in the game with McCray collecting 10 kills with Killingsworth adding eight.

 

The Gators return to action Sunday when UF returns home to host No. 17 Tennessee in a 1 p.m. (ET) contest in Gainesville. The match will be broadcast live on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com. In addition, the contest can be seen live via GatorVision Online.

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