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Kelsey Bowers led the Gators with 12 kills

Friday October 6, 2006Bowers Finishes One Kill Off Career Best In Sweep of Miss. State

STARKVILLE, Miss.

Kelsey Bowers led the Gators with 12 kills

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) recorded a team-best 12 kills on  .625 hitting as the No. 8 University of Florida volleyball team swept Mississippi State (30-28, 30-26, 30-23) to improve to 29-0 all-time against the Bulldogs on Friday evening at the Newell-Grissom Building.

 

Florida (13-2 overall, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) moved to 14-0 all-time in Starkville, while the Bulldogs became the final team in the SEC for UF head coach Mary Wise to claim her 20th victory against. The Gators finished with more aces (9-3) and blocks (8.0-6.0), while out-hitting the Bulldogs .287-.237. Mississippi State (10-7, 1-6) entered the match as the No. 13 team in the nation in service aces but collected just three against the Gators – MSU’s lowest total at home in 2006.

 

“This match was a reflection of Gator volleyball in terms of you don’t know when your name will be called, but you step up when it is,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “Stefanie Douglas and Christina Diaz both played well off the bench for us tonight. After the way Mississippi State played, it left me asking how could this team possibly be 1-6 in the SEC? They were very good tonight.”

 

UF finished with a higher hitting percentage than its opponent for the 10th time in the last 11 matches as the Gators improved to 42-0 against teams from the state of Mississippi under Wise.

 

Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) had a banner day for the Gators with seven kills on .400 hitting with 35 assists and eight digs, while freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) tallied six kills on .417 hitting with five blocks. Senior Stefanie Douglas (Belton, Texas) came off the bench to supply a season-best eight kills on .350 hitting with four block assists, while freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) ended the contest with a team-best 13 digs – the 11th time in as many matches of her career that she’s reached double figures in digs.

 

The opening game was a tight affair with neither team building more than a four-point advantage with the Gators eventually claiming a 30-28 win. The Bulldogs raced out to an early 5-2 lead before Florida stormed back with a 6-0 run to move on top 8-5. Bowers provided strong serving in the stretch in tallying an ace, while freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) added a kill and a block assist. The teams sided out until Mississippi State came back to take the lead at 13-12. Florida answered with the next three points to move in front at 15-14 after a solo block from Bowers. After Florida went ahead 17-15, the Bulldogs notched five consecutive points to move on top 20-17. With Mississippi State up 23-20, the Gators went on a 7-1 run to regain the advantage at 27-24. Douglas led UF with a pair of kills in the run. The Bulldogs didn’t go away and battled back to tie things up at 28-28. The Gators earned a game point after a Mississippi State attack error and then closed the frame out with a tandem block from junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) and Johnson. Mississippi State out-hit UF .268-.235 in the game, but the Gators tallied more blocks 4.0-2.0, aces (4-2) and fewer attack errors (5-8). ????? McGinnis, Johnson and Bowers each recorded three kills to lead the Gators, while Johnson led all players with three block assists.

 

The second game was also tight until the Gators pulled away midway through only to be forced to fight off a Mississippi State rally in a 30-26 win. The Bulldogs again took an early advantage and were on top 8-6 before the Gators went on a 5-0 run to move in front 11-8. McGinnis served UF to the run and added an ace, while Johnson collected a kill and a block assist. The Gators gradually pulled away and led by five at 16-11 following an ace from sophomore defensive specialist Christina Diaz (Hollywood, Fla.). Mississippi State scored two to come within three at 16-13 before the Gators tallied the next four to go on top 20-13 after a Bowers offspeed kill. Mississippi State didn’t go away and the Bulldogs slowly crept back into the game, coming as close as one at 24-23. But Florida answered with four consecutive points and went ahead 28-23 after a kill from junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) on the left side before the game ended on a Bulldog service ace.  Florida out-hit Mississippi State .298-.234 in the game as Bowers led all players with five kills on five swings, while Hampton and Cusack each collected a team high five digs.

 

The Gators used a 5-0 and 6-1 run in the final game to gain enough separation in a 30-23 win. Things were close early on with the Bulldogs tying things up at 8-8 after a kill before Florida responded with a 5-0 run to move ahead 13-8 following a kill on the left side from Hampton. With the Bulldogs trailing by four at 14-10, the Gators notched six of the next seven points to move out in front 20-11 with McGinnis providing a kill and an ace in the run. The Bulldogs never threatened the rest of the way before the match ended when Douglas notched a kill. The Gators out-hit Mississippi State .317-.213 in the game with Killingsworth pacing UF with five kills and Cusack collecting a team-best eight digs.

 

The Gators return to action on Sunday when Florida squares off against Mississippi in Oxford. The match will be broadcast live on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com.

 

 

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