hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas)
picked up 20 kills on .543 hitting as the seventh-ranked University of Florida
volleyball team won its 14th consecutive match by snapping Arkansas’
five-match winning streak in a 3-1 (30-24, 30-26, 28-30, 30-16) victory on
Sunday afternoon at Barnhill Arena.
Florida (22-2 overall, 15-1 Southeastern Conference) won its 17th
consecutive match against Arkansas and moved
to 8-0 all-time in Fayetteville
with the victory. The Gators also moved closer to a 16th straight
SEC title as UF’s magic number to clinch at least a share of the crown is now
two with four matches left to play. The Gators finished with more kills (80-63)
and digs (85-52), while out-hitting the Lady Backs (15-9, 8-8) .359-.203.
say enough good things about our team today,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “These players
really battled out there, especially when the Arkansas crowd was really into it. We had
production from a lot of different players and for us to beat good teams on the
road, we’ve got to get production from everyone and that happened today.”
Florida out-hit its opponent for the 14th
consecutive match and claimed its 76th straight win against teams
from the SEC Western Division.
A pair of
notable records concerning digs came to fruition for the Gators during the
match. Junior outside hitter Marcie
Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) surpassed a career milestone in
becoming the ninth and fastest player in school history to reach 1,000 career
digs as she recorded nine and now has 1,001 in her career. Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose,
Fla.) – fresh off a 46-dig effort on
Friday at No. 11 LSU – broke Hampton’s
school record for most digs by a freshman by collecting 25 to break the old
mark of 354.
Florida displayed a diversified offense against Arkansas as five different players finished
in double figures in kills led by McCray. Hampton
also added 18 kills on .294 hitting with junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) finishing with 13 kills,
sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers
(Gainesville, Fla.) with 12 and freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.)
with 10. Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.)
wasn’t far away with seven kills on .500 hitting, while she also collected 64
assists and nine digs. Her assist total was just two shy of her career best.
defensive specialist Rhian Davis
(Austin, Texas) helped the Gator back row defense by tying her season best
with 18 digs, while sophomore defensive specialist Christina Diaz (Hollywood, Fla.) adding a career best 12 digs.
Florida used a 6-3 run in the latter stages
of the first game to record a 30-24 win. UF opened the match well by scoring
five of the first seven points with Cusack and sophomore defensive specialist
Diaz each picking up an ace in the run. After Arkansas put a pair of points on the
scoreboard, the Gators tallied six of the next eight to move out in front 11-6
following a kill from the right side by McCray. Arkansas
cut the Gator lead down to 11-9 with three consecutive points before Florida answered with
four of the next six to move back in front by four at 15-11 after another
McCray kill. The Lady Backs again fought back with three points to narrow the
gap to one at 15-14 , but Florida
responded with the next three on an Arkansas
ball handling error, a Bowers kill and an ace from Hampton. The Lady Backs came as close as two
at 18-16, but the Gators scored six of the next nine points to build a 24-19
advantage following a kill from Hampton
on the left side. Arkansas
came within four at 25-21, but the Gators eventually closed out the game on a
McCray angle kill from the right side. The Gators out-hit Arkansas .318-.280 in the game with McCray
pacing UF with six kills on .462 hitting and McGinnis leading all players with
used a late 4-0 run to give themselves enough separation to win game two 30-26.
off to another strong start by tallying five of the first six points before
going on to build an early five-point lead after a tandem block from Johnson
and McGinnis put UF up 9-4. Arkansas
gradually earned back points and came within a pair at 13-11 to force the
Gators to use their first timeout. After the break, the Lady Backs added two
more points to tie the game at 13-13. The teams then sided out until the Gators
strung together three points on a Johnson kill down the middle and a pair of
Hampton kills to go on top 19-16 and force the Lady Backs to call their first
timeout. UF added another point before Arkansas
notched the next three points to come within a point at 20-19. Florida answered with a
4-0 run in which McCray, Bowers and Hampton all
recorded kills as the Gators went back in front 24-19. Arkansas
didn’t go away and eventually closed the gap to a pair at 28-26, but Florida ended the game
with kills from Johnson and a kill from Killingsworth off the block. The Gators
.429-.209 in the game with Killingsworth leading all players with seven kills
on .600 hitting. Cusack also led all players with six digs.
Arkansas used a critical 4-0 run late in the
third game before fending off a late Gator rally as the Lady Backs won 30-28. UF
again started well by getting out to a 4-2 advantage after a kill by Bowers.
The Gators went up by as many as three in the early stages at 10-7 after a ball
handling error on the Lady Backs before Arkansas pulled within one at 11-10. Florida scored three of
the next four to earn a three-point advantage at 14-11, but the Lady Backs had
plenty of fight left in them and tied the game at 16-16. Arkansas took its first lead of the match at
18-17 to force the Gators to use their first timeout. Out of the break, Florida tied things up
on a kill by McCray from the right side. Arkansas
moved back in front 19-18 before the Gators scored two straight on a Hampton kill and a Lady Back
error to move ahead 20-19. Arkansas tied the
game at 20-20 before Hampton
collected another kill to give UF a 21-20 advantage. Arkansas stormed back with four consecutive
points to open up a 24-21 lead and force the Gators to use their final timeout.
McGinnis ended the run with a solo block to cut the deficit to a pair at 24-22.
The Lady Backs notched the next two before McGinnis recorded a kill to make it
26-23 in favor of Arkansas.
After another UA point, McCray collected back-to-back kills to narrow the gap
to 27-25 as the Lady Backs took their first timeout. Arkansas answered with the next two points
to set up game point at 29-25. Florida fended
off the first with a Hampton kill from the left
side before Hampton
again bought the Gators another point with a kill to make it 29-27. With Cusack
serving, Hampton notched her third straight kill
to make it 29-28, but Arkansas
closed out the game with a kill down the line from Kele
Brewer on the next point. Arkansas out-hit the
Gators .264-.222 in the game and recorded 4.5 blocks to 2.0 for Florida. Hampton led UF with seven
kills on .286 hitting in the game with McCray adding six kills on .417 hitting.
Cusack led all players with 11 digs.
Florida used a 9-0 run in the opening
stages of the fourth game before cruising to a 30-16 win. The teams duked it out to a 5-5 tie in the
opening stages of the game before the Gators put together a 9-0 run to move on
top 14-5. Hampton had a pair of kills in the run
to pace UF, while Davis provided solid serving
with the Gators being aided by four Arkansas
errors in the stretch. After the Lady Backs ended the run with a kill, Florida scored four more
to move in front 18-6 and put the game out of reach. The match ended when Bowers
put down a ball on a slide play. The Gators out-hit Arkansas .593 – a season-best – to .203.
Florida returns home after its four-match road swing by hosting Mississippi on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. (ET) at the
Stephen C. O’Connell Center before welcoming Mississippi State
on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. Both matches will be carried on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com, while both can also be
seen via GatorVision Online.