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Sunday November 19, 2006No. 7 VB Closes Out SEC Season With Sweep of Kentucky For 18th Straight Win

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) recorded 13 kills on .312 hitting and also had eight digs to lead the No. 7 ranked University of Florida volleyball team to a sweep over Kentucky (30-25, 30-23, 32-30)  in front of a crowd of 1,930 on Sunday at the O’Connell Center.

 

Florida (26-2 overall, 19-1 Southeastern Conference) had more kills (47-45), blocks (10.0-9.0) and digs (59-43) than the Wildcats, while out-hitting them .215 to .141. The Gators held Kentucky to .141 hitting which was the 14th time in the last 17 matches that Florida has held its opponents below .200. The victory was the 35th straight over the Wildcats and Florida’s 18th straight on the season.

 

“This was a great win,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “To beat a Kentucky team in three games with all they had riding on this match is a testament to where we are as a team. In game three, Kentucky was as good as any team we have faced all year. In that third game the difference was blocking – without those blocks we don’t win the game.”

 

The Gators concluded the inaugural double-round robin SEC schedule with a 19-1 record to win the program’s 16th consecutive regular season title – tied for the longest streak by any team in any sport in SEC history.

 

Junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) reached double figures in her 11th straight match with her 10 kills. Junior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) pitched in with 10 kills on .348 hitting in finishing in double figures for the ninth straight match. Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) recorded 34 assists, seven digs and six blocks.

 

Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) moved into fourth on the single season chart for most digs and now has 452 after collecting 22 against Kentucky. Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) picked up eight kills and added nine blocks.

 

On senior day and competing in possibly her last match in the O’Connell Center, senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) picked up a season-high three service aces and added seven digs.

 

The victory brought Wise within one win of reaching 600 career victories as she has a record of 599-116 (.837 winning percentage), including a record of 518-53 (.907 winning percentage) in her 16 seasons at Florida.

 

The opening game was a tight affair until the Gators used a 6-1 run midway through before fighting off a late Kentucky rally to earn a 30-25 victory. The game was close early on with Florida gaining a bit of separation with a 5-1 run that gave that Gators a 14-9 advantage after a service error from Kentucky. After a kill from the Wildcats, Florida put six of the next seven points on the scoreboard to race out to a 20-11 lead following a kill by Hampton. Kentucky didn’t back down and eventually cut the lead down to one at 22-21, but Florida responded with four consecutive points on kills from Hampton and Killingsworth, a UK error and an ace from Davis to extend the advantage back to five at 26-21. Kentucky came as close as three at 27-24, but the Gators eventually closed out the game on a Wildcat service error. Hampton led all players with six kills on .364 hitting, while Cusack paced all players with eight digs. The Gators recorded 4.0 blocks in the game led by McGinnis and Bowers, who each had three.

 

The second game was close until Florida scored seven of the final 10 points to pick up a 30-23 win. Things were tight early on before the Gators built a small advantage after a 4-1 run gave them a 16-12 lead following an attack error by the Wildcats. Kentucky cut the deficit down to three at 23-20 before Florida scored four-straight points behind the serve of Hampton with the Wildcats recording three errors in the stretch as the Gators went on top 27-20. McCray, who led all players with five kills on .714 hitting in the game, eventually closed out the game with a kill. The Gators out-hit Kentucky .400 to .189 in the game with Bowers collecting four kills on .800 hitting. Cusack paced UF with four digs.

 

Kentucky nearly claimed the final game and led from the start until Florida scored six of the final eight points in a 32-30 win. The Wildcats took control of the game from the outset and built an early five-point advantage at 11-6. Florida answered with a 4-0 run to cut the lead down to one at 11-10 after a McCray kill, but Kentucky maintained the lead and extended it back to five at 20-15. After a Gator timeout, Florida fell behind by six points before coming back within a tally at 23-22 following  four consecutive blocks by UF. Bowers and Hampton collected the first before McGinnis and Bowers combined for the next two with Hampton and Bowers blocking another UK attack to bring the Gators within one at 23-22. Florida tied the game at 24-24 after a Kentucky attack error, but the Wildcats went on top 28-26 after a Gator attack error and looked to be in control. After a UK service error made it 28-27, a Kentucky attack error ensued before freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) recorded a kill to set up match point at 29-28. The Wildcats fended it off when McGinnis was called for a double-hit before Johnson answered with a kill to make it 30-29 in favor of the Gators. Kentucky’s Nicole Britenriker responded with a kill to tied things at 30-30 before McCray notched a kill and Hampton ended the match with a kill. McCray led UF with five kills in the game, while Hampton added four with Cusack recording 10 digs. Bowers collected six blocks in the game to tie the Florida rally scoring era record for most in a game as Florida picked up 6.0 blocks as a team.

 

The Gators will conclude their regular season by serving as the host for the Conference Challenge tournament in Orlando Nov. 24-25. The event will be held at the Champions Sports Complex and will feature Marquette, LSU and St. John’s. LSU will take on St. John’s on Friday at 2 p.m. followed by the Gators and Marquette at 4 p.m. On Saturday, LSU will face Marquette at 2 p.m. and Florida will battle St. John’s at 4 p.m.

 

Both Florida matches will be carried on WKZY 106.9 FM and on www.GatorZone.com.

 

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