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Sunday November 12, 2006No. 7 VB Sweeps Miss. State To Claim 16th Straight SEC Title

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Led by a match-high 12 kills from junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.), the seventh-ranked Florida volleyball team clinched at least a share of its 16th consecutive Southeastern Conference title with a sweep of Mississippi State (30-14, 30-15, 30-17) before a crowd of 1,810 fans on Sunday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

The Gators (24-2 overall, 17-1 SEC) clinched at least a share of their 16th straight SEC title with the victory which ties the Arkansas men’s cross country squad for the most consecutive SEC titles in conference history in any sport. If Florida wins either of its final two matches in SEC play or LSU loses either of its last two matches then the Gators would claim the title outright.

 

Florida improved to 30-0 versus the Bulldogs in the series history and 21-0 under Mary Wise. The Gators have only dropped one game to Mississippi State in the series and improved their game record to 90-1.

 

Florida finished the match with more kills (43-33), digs (47-38) and blocks (15.0-2.0), while out-hitting the Bulldogs .347-.082. The Gators also out-served Mississippi State – the league’s top serving team – as UF had six aces, while the Bulldogs had only two.

 

“This win was a product of so many complete performances. It was the perfect type of match to clinch a share of the SEC title because we got good play from everybody,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “All the SEC titles are special, but with the double-round robin and the league becoming more competitive, I think you can make the argument that this one becomes a little more special.”

 

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) pitched in with nine kills on .600 hitting and also had two block solos and eight block assists – the third time in 2006 that she reached double-figures in blocks in a three-game match. Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melsrose, Fla.) collected 16 digs making her the sixth player in UF history to reach 400 in a season.

 

Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) finished the match with 30 assists and now only needs 18 to become the third player in UF history to record 4,000 career assists. McGinnis also added six blocks and five digs.

 

Florida used a 9-1 run midway through the opening game in cruising to a 30-14 win. UF started well by scoring four of the first five points with Bowers registering a kill on a slide play to put the Gators in front 4-1. Mississippi State cut the Gator lead down to a pair at 7-5, but Florida answered with a 4-0 run to build an 11-6 advantage. After each team recorded a point, the Gators went on a 5-1 run to amass an eight point lead at 15-7 after another Bowers kill on a slide. The Gators later went on a 9-1 run behind solid serving from McGinnis and senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) as Florida built up a 16-point advantage at 26-10 before closing the game on a Killingsworth kill. Florida out-hit Mississippi State .314-.045 in the game with Killingsworth and Hampton both recording four kills to pace the Gators. UF totaled 5.0 blocks in the game with Hampton recording a pair of solo blocks and freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) leading all players with three total blocks. Freshman defensive specialist Alli Cecchini (Brentwood, Calif.) paced UF with six digs in the game.

 

Florida used a 6-0 run in the middle of the second game before going on to claim a 30-15 win. The Bulldogs battled with the Gators in the early stages as the teams sided out until UF scored two straight to move in front 7-5. Florida then went on a 6-0 run behind the serve of Cusack in building a 13-6 lead following a Mississippi State attack error. The Bulldogs came within five at 14-9, but Florida answered with four straight points with Bowers starting the run with a solo block and ending it with a kill as the Gators went ahead 18-9, effectively putting the game out of reach before Bowers and McGinnis closed things out with a tandem block. UF out-hit Mississippi State .458-.129 in the game with Hampton leading the Gators with four kills on .500 hitting. Bowers led Florida with five blocks in the game as UF collected 5.0 as a team.

 

The final game was close early until Florida put together a 7-1 run at the midway point before ending the match with a 30-17 win. The Gators got off to a great start by scoring the first four points before the Bulldogs came back within a point at 8-7. Florida then recorded three-straight points on a pair of kills from senior opposite hitter Stefanie Douglas (Belton, Texas) and block assists from Douglas and Bowers. After the Bulldogs recorded a kill to make it 11-8 in favor of UF the Gators, UF tallied five consecutive points to move on top 15-8 after a kill from Hampton. Mississippi State never came closer than five the rest of the way before the match ended with a service ace from Hampton. UF again out-hit Mississippi State .306-.086 with Killingsworth leading all players with five kills on .333 hitting. Florida again totaled 5.0 team blocks in the game with Bowers registering one solo block and four block assists. Cusack paced all players with six digs.

 

Florida returns to action on Friday, Nov. 17 when the Gators travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee. The contest can be seen live on FSN Florida and will be broadcast on Rock 104 and www.GatorZone.com. The Gators will then return home for their final SEC match of the season when UF hosts Kentucky on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1:30 p.m. on Senior Day.

 

 

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