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Kelsey Bowers tallied a career high 13 blocks against Alabama

Sunday October 29, 2006Bowers Collects Career Best 13 Blocks As No. 7 VB Sweeps Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.

Kelsey Bowers tallied a career high 13 blocks against Alabama

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) recorded a career-best 13 blocks and added eight kills as the No. 7 University of Florida volleyball team swept an upset-minded Alabama squad (30-27, 30-28, 30-20) on Sunday afternoon before a near-capacity Coleman Auxiliary Volleyball Extension crowd.

 

Florida (20-2 overall, 13-1 Southeastern Conference) had to fend off a tough team in Alabama (14-9, 9-5), which entered the contest having upset four ranked teams in the last two seasons and hadn’t dropped a home match in SEC play this season. The Gators improved to 26-0 all-time against Alabama and 12-0 in Tuscaloosa as Florida won its 20th match in its first 22 tries for the sixth straight season. Florida out-hit Alabama .281-.153 and the Gators finished with more kills (52-49), digs (67-55) and blocks (14.5-10.5).

 

“Blocking was huge for us today,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “Going into the match, we felt the keys were serving, blocking and passing. After Alabama’s quick start, we settled down and excelled in those areas. We told our team that we had a chance to do something special – become the first SEC team to beat Alabama at home. Today’s match was a statement match in terms of how much our team has improved.”

 

Bowers reached double-figures in blocks for the second time in her career and had 10 through just two games. Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) ended the contest with 18 digs and moved into third place in UF history for most digs by a freshman with 308. Junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) led the Gators with 15 kills, while junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) nearly recorded a triple double with 44 assists, 10 digs and eight blocks. Junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) also had a banner day for the Gators with 20 digs and six kills. Her dig total was just two shy of her career high and marked the second time in her career she reached 20 in a match.

 

The Gators stormed back in the opening game after Alabama scored seven of the first eight points in claiming a 30-27 win. The Tide couldn’t have started the match any better and got off to a 7-1 lead in forcing the Gators to use an early timeout. Alabama pushed its lead to seven at 10-3 before Florida scored eight of the next 10 points to cut the deficit to one at 12-11. The Gator block was huge in the run as four of the points came on tandem blocks with Bowers tallying three block assists and McGinnis and Killingsworth adding a pair each. The teams sided out until Florida tied things up at 15-15 on another tandem block from McGinnis and Bowers. The Gators eventually claimed their first lead after Bowers notched a kill on a slide play to put UF in front 17-16. Alabama fought back and regained the lead at 18-17 and 19-18 before the Gators notched two-straight points to go ahead 20-19 after an Alabama attack error. Florida earned a bit of separation by scoring three of four points to move ahead 23-21 after a tandem block from McCray and Bowers. But Alabama again refused to go away and came back to tie the game at 24-24. Florida answered with the next two points on a Hampton solo block and an Alabama attack error before the Crimson Tide called their final timeout with the Gators up 26-24. The timeout worked and Alabama scored two straight to tie the match and prompt Florida to use its last timeout. The Gators went ahead 27-26 on a Killingsworth kill down the middle, but Alabama tied things again at 27-27. Florida then put Alabama away with the final three points on a Johnson kill, a Tide ball handling error and a Killingsworth kill on a slide play. The Gators recorded 6.0 total blocks in the game with Bowers recording five assists and McGinnis notching four. Johnson paced the Gators with five kills on .571 hitting with Killingsworth adding four. Hampton led all players with nine digs, while Cusack picked up seven.

 

Florida started strong and fended off a late rally from the Crimson Tide in taking game two 30-28.

Florida turned the tables on the Tide in jumping out to an early lead with a 5-0 run propelling the Gators to a 7-3 lead. Alabama gradually cut into Florida’s advantage and eventually tied the game at 14-14. Florida answered by scoring four of the next five points as Bowers led the offensive charge with a pair of kills as the Gators went back in front 18-15. Alabama didn’t back down and rallied to tie the game at 20-20. Following a Florida timeout, the Gators scored three consecutive points on kills from Killingsworth, McCray and Hampton to move back in front 23-20. After an Alabama kill, Florida put three more points on the board with two coming via blocks from Hampton and Bowers and McCray and Bowers as the Gator lead swelled to five at 26-21. Alabama fought off four game points before the Gators eventually closed out the game when Killingsworth put down a ball on a slide play. The Gators out-hit Alabama .279-.235 in the game and Florida’s block was strong again as UF tallied 5.5 team blocks. Bowers led the way with five block assists to reach a total of 10 blocks through just two games. Killingsworth led UF with seven kills in the game, while Hampton collected seven digs and Cusack added six.

 

Florida used a 7-0 run midway through the final game in putting the finishing touches on the Crimson Tide with a 30-20 win. The Gators again started well and scored four of the first five points in streaking out to a 4-1 lead. The Tide came back with a 4-0 run to take the lead at 7-6 before the two squads proceeded to side out on the next 16 points. With Alabama ahead 15-14, the Gators scored three straight points to move in front 17-15 and force a Tide timeout. Killingsworth got things going with a kill on a slide play followed by an Alabama attack error and a Johnson kill down the middle. After the timeout, Florida added four consecutive points behind the strong serving of McGinnis to increase the Gator lead to 21-15 and force Alabama to use its second timeout. The Crimson Tide came as close as four points at 23-19, but the Gators eventually ended the match when McGinnis and Bowers stuffed an Alabama attack attempt. Florida out-hit Alabama .405-.182 in the final game with McCray collecting a team-high six kills on six swings and Cusack leading UF with five digs.

 

Florida returns to action next weekend by concluding its four-match road trip. Florida will face No. 10 LSU at 8 p.m. (ET) on Friday before battling Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. Both matches will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com. In addition, the Arkansas contest can be seen via GatorVision Online.

 

 

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