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Kelsey Bowers tied her career high with 13 kills against Arkansas

Friday October 13, 2006Bowers & Johnson Dominate Middle As No. 8 VB Sweeps Arkansas Before 5,722 Fans

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Kelsey Bowers tied her career high with 13 kills against Arkansas

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) and freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) each matched their career bests in kills as No. 8 Florida swept Arkansas (30-24, 30-21, 30-27) before a crowd of 5,722 on Friday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Florida (15-2 overall, 8-1 SEC) won its 71st consecutive match against teams from the SEC’s Western Division and its 16th straight match against Arkansas (10-7, 3-6). The Gators out-hit the Lady Backs .292-.173 and finished with more kills (56-42), digs (62-51), aces (5-1) and blocks (7.5-6.0).

 

“Kristina and Kelsey’s numbers were pretty staggering tonight,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “Early on, we had a lot of success in getting kills in the middle and Arkansas did a nice job of adjusting to that. Game three was more indicative of what we thought the match would be like. We’ve got to come back Sunday and face LSU – one of the best offensive teams in the nation.”

 

Bowers tallied a team-best 13 kills on .600 hitting with three solo blocks and a block assist, while Johnson added 12 kills on .556 hitting. Junior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) chimed in with 11 kills on .526 hitting, while junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) collected 46 assists, 10 digs, two aces, two kills and a block. Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) finished in double figures in digs for the 13th consecutive match with 15 and is just one dig shy of tying the UF record for digs in a season by a freshman libero or defensive specialist.

 

Junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) barley missed a double-double with nine kills and a team-high 16 digs, while junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) added nine kills.

 

The 5,722 fans ranked as the sixth-largest home crowd in Florida volleyball history and was the most fans to watch a match in the O’Connell Center since 2004.

 

The opening frame was close until the Gators went on an 8-0 run to surge ahead in a 30-24 win. The two teams see-sawed back and forth in the opening stages with the lead changing hands five times. After a kill gave the Lady Backs a 17-16 advantage, Florida tallied eight consecutive points to jump in front 24-17. Cusack guided the Gators through the run with her serve in racking up a pair of aces, while Johnson, McCray and Hampton each recorded kills in the stretch. Arkansas came as close as five points, but the game eventually ended with a Lady Back double-hit. Bowers, Hampton and Johnson all picked up four kills to pace the Gators as UF out-hit Arkansas .243-.194. Cusack led all players with four digs in the game.

 

The second game was fairly close, but the Gators gradually pulled away until scoring the final five points in a 30-21 win. Florida led from start to finish and jumped out to a four-point lead after a kill from Johnson down the middle made it 10-6. Arkansas came within a pair at 11-9 before the Gators put five of the next six points on the board to move ahead 16-9. Arkansas slowly fought back and cut Florida’s lead to three at 23-20. But the Gators answered the challenge by scoring seven of the final eight points to secure the win. McGinnis served four of the points and McCray paced the Gators with a solo block and a block assist in the stretch. Johnson led all players with six kills on seven swings with McCray adding four on five attempts. Cusack and senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) each tallied three digs to lead UF. The Gators out-hit the Lady Backs .500-.059 in the game.

 

The final game was tight the entire way with the Gators scoring four of the final five points to wrap up the match in a 30-27 win. Both teams traded punches early before the Gators went on top by five after a Hampton kill made it 14-9 in favor of UF. Arkansas crept back into the game and tied Florida at 21-21. After another Hampton kill, the Lady Backs tallied the next two points to move ahead 23-22. Bowers answered with a kill to tie the game at 23-23 before an Arkansas attack error gave the Gators a 24-23 advantage. Following a UA timeout, Johnson put a ball down the middle to give UF a 25-23 lead. Arkansas didn’t go away and recorded the next to points to tie the game at 25-25. Killingsworth then split two blockers for a kill before Arkansas again tied things up at 26-26. But the Gators then put the Lady Backs away as McCray notched a kill from the right side followed by a Davis ace. After Arkansas’ last timeout, McCray picked up another kill to set up match point at 29-26. The Lady Backs fought off one point, but Johnson then ended the match with a kill down the middle. The teams both hit .221 in the final game with Hampton, McCray and Bowers each tying for game-high honors with five kills apiece. Hampton recorded 11 digs in the game – the most by a Gator in a single game in 2006 and just two off the UF rally scoring record of 13.

 

The win sets up a battle for first place in the SEC on Sunday when No. 13 LSU (16-2, 8-1) travels to the O’Connell Center for a 1:30 p.m. contest. The match can be seen live via GatorVision Online and will be broadcast on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com.

 

 

 

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