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Marcie Hampton was named the Conference Challenge MVP

Saturday November 25, 2006Hampton Named Conference Challenge MVP As No. 7 VB Sweeps St. John's


Marcie Hampton was named the Conference Challenge MVP

University of Florida junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) was named MVP after collecting a match-high 13 kills on .303 hitting as No. 7 Florida swept St. Johnís 30-19, 30-22, 30-19 to conclude play at the Conference Challenge on Saturday at the Champions Sports Complex.


Florida (28-2) won its 20th straight match of the season and will enter NCAA Championship play with at least 28 victories for the 12th time in Mary Wiseís 16 seasons as head coach. The Gators out-hit St. Johnís (30-4) .389-.064 and finished with more kills (55-35) digs (55-36) and blocks 16.5-3.0.


ďWe faced a team with 30 wins and a significant amount of international experience,Ē Wise said. ďWe donít normally see a lot of things that they do and for us to have such a good match against them shows the maturity of this team. We blocked well again and the blocking of our team can lead to quick points.Ē


Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) joined Hampton on the All-Tournament team after registering 43 assists, eight digs, six blocks and six kills on .667 hitting. Freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) led all players with seven total blocks and added eight kills on .727 hitting, while sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) added six blocks and six kills.


Junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) finished in double figures in kills with 10 on .467 hitting, while freshman Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) collected a match-high 16 digs. Junior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) chimed in with 11 kills on .500 hitting, while senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas) had a strong serving match that included a 10-0 run in game three.


With an ace in the match, Davis moved into a tie for second in Florida history for career service aces by defensive specialists/liberos with 71. Bowers moved into fourth place in UF history for single season blocks by a sophomore and now has 158.


The Gators have now finished undefeated in nine of 11 Thanksgiving tournaments played under Wise and sport a 21-2 record in those matches.


The opening game was close until the Gators went on an 8-2 run to gain a substantial lead in a 30-19 win. After a kill by St. Johnís made the score 5-4 in favor of UF, the Gators rattled off eight of the next 10 points to move on top 13-6 after a kill from Hampton. St. Johnís never really threatened Florida after that point before Hampton closed out the game with a kill. The Gators hit a season-best .581 in the game with 20 kills on 31 attempts with just two errors, while St. Johnís hit .178. Hampton led all players with six kills on .455 hitting with freshman defensive specialist Alli Cecchini (Brentwood, Calif.) collecting a game high eight digs.


The second game was tight until Florida broke an 18-18 tie and scored 12 of the final 16 points in a 30-22 victory. The teams sided out early and often in the opening stages of the game with neither squad building an advantage larger than three points. After a UF error gave St. Johnís an 18-17 advantage, Florida out-scored the Red Storm 12-5 to close out the game. The Gators tallied three straight to move out in front 20-18 after a kill from McCray before St. Johnís battled back within one at 21-20. But Floridaís block came alive as UF recorded tandem blocks by McGinnis and Bowers on the next two points as the Gators went ahead 23-20. The Red Storm came within two at 24-22, but UF tallied the final six points of the game behind the serve of McGinnis and three kills by Johnson to close out the game. Florida out-hit St. Johnís .400 to .095 in the game with McCray leading all players with seven kills on .462 hitting. Cusack tied for game-high honors with five digs, while the Gators totaled 7.0 blocks led by McGinnisí four.


The Red Storm took control early in the final game before a 10-0 Gator run propelled UF to a 30-19 victory. St. Johnís started strong with six of the first seven points before the Gators gradually came back and tied the game at 9-9 on an ace from Davis Ė the second point of the 10-0 run. The Gator block again made its presence felt as Hampton and Johnson combined for three tandem blocks in the run and Florida found itself ahead 17-9 before the Red Storm ended the run. St. Johnís never came closer than seven points the rest of the way before the match ended with a Hampton solo block. The Gators out-hit St. Johnís .238 to -.105 in the game as UF collected 7.5 total blocks with Hampton recording five. McCray, Killingsworth and Hampton each had four kills in the game to pace UF, while Cusack had a game-high seven digs.


Florida will await its NCAA Championship destination as the selection show will air on Sunday at 3 p.m. on ESPNews. Florida has made the NCAA field in each of Wiseís 15 seasons as head coach and has the automatic bid courtesy of winning the programís 16th consecutive Southeastern Conference title.


No. 15 LSU 3, Marquette 0

Marina Skender led all players with 15 kills and 16.0 points in guiding No. 15 LSU to a 3-0 sweep of Marquette 30-22, 31-29, 30-16 in the third match overall and first match on Saturday at the Conference Challenge.


The Tigers (26-5) out-hit the Golden Eagles (16-15) .341-.179 in the contest and collected 11.0 blocks to 3.0 for Marquette. Melody Clark chimed in with 11 kills, while Lauren DeGirolamo had a match-high nine blocks and added eight kills on .333 hitting.


Kimberly Todd led the Golden Eagles with 13 kills and also added eight digs.


Conference Challenge All-Tournament Team

Marcie Hampton - Florida (MVP)
Angie McGinnis - Florida
Daniela Romero - LSU
Vanessa Freeman - LSU
Melody Clark - LSU
Hui Ping Huang - St. John's
Kimberly Todd - Marquette


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