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Thursday November 30, 2006Hampton Leads No. 7 VB Into NCAA 2nd Round; UF Faces Arizona St. Friday

GAINESVILLE, Fla.

Junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) recorded an NCAA personal-best 21 kills on .559 hitting in leading No. 7 Florida to its 21st consecutive win and a spot in the second round of the NCAA Championship after a sweep of Florida A&M (30-18, 30-16, 30-26) Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Florida (29-2) will move on to face Arizona State (16-14) at 7 p.m. Friday for a chance to advance to the Gainesville Regional Dec. 8. The Sun Devils beat the College of Charleston 3-1 in the opening match.

 

The Gators hit a season-best .429 in the contest – the second-best hitting percentage for UF in an NCAA match in school history. Florida finished with more kills (57-41), aces (4-1), digs (48-27) and blocks (12.0-2.0) and out-hit Florida A&M .429 to .182.

 

“Those numbers came against one of the best teams we’ve ever faced in the NCAA first round,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “The Marcie Hampton-Angie McGinnis combination was lethal tonight and for us to come away with a 3-0 win against a team of this caliber is indicative of how well we played.”

 

The Gators moved to 10-0 all-time in NCAA first round contests and will play in the second round for the 16th time in as many NCAA appearances in UF history.

 

Junior Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) set the Gators to their .429 hitting efficiency and recorded 40 assists, four kills, four digs and three blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) picked up 11 kills on .529 hitting and added five blocks. Senior Stefanie Douglas (Belton, Texas) had a match-high seven blocks and added seven kills, while freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) had nine kills on .692 hitting and six blocks.

 

Freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) picked up a team-high 14 digs and is now just nine shy of becoming the second player in UF history to reach 500 in a season.

 

The Gators used a 6-0 run in the opening stages of the first game before cruising to a 30-18 win. With the score tied 1-1, Douglas and Bowers combined for a block to ignite a 6-0 Gator run. Freshman defensive specialist Alli Cecchini (Brentwood, Calif.) served UF to the next five points and had an ace in the run, while junior Kisya  Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) and Hampton both collected kills in the stretch. The Rattlers narrowed the gap to three at 11-8, but Florida responded with four consecutive points to move ahead 15-8. Florida A&M didn’t threaten the rest of the way before the game ended with a Bowers kill. UF out-hit Florida A&M .484-.111 with Hampton leading all players with seven kills on .700 hitting. The Gators recorded 5.5 blocks in the game with Douglas paving the way with four assists. Cusack finished with a game-high five digs.

 

The second game was close early until the Gators went on a 9-1 run to break things open before eventually taking the game 30-16. After the Rattlers came back to tie the game at 3-3, Florida scored eight of the next nine points as Hampton tallied a pair of kills in the run to pace the Gators as they went on top 11-4. Florida A&M never came closer than seven the rest of the way with Florida eventually closing out the game on a Killingsworth kill from the left side. Florida out-hit Florida A&M .419 to .152 in the game with Hampton tying for game-high honors with six kills on .556 hitting. Johnson added five kills on .714 hitting, while Hampton led UF with four digs.

 

The third game was close the entire way until the Gators tallied six of the final eight points in claiming a 30-26 win. Florida was able to build an early four-point advantage after an attack error by the Rattlers put UF in front 12-8. The Rattlers gradually fought back and took the lead at 17-16 after a kill. The Gators answered with the next three on a kill from Douglas, a tandem block from Hampton and Johnson and an ace from senior defensive specialist Rhian Davis (Austin, Texas). Florida A&M didn’t back down and the teams sided out until the Rattlers notched three of four points to tie the game at 24-24. Douglas and Johnson again combined for a block on the next point before duplicating the feat on the next point in boosting the UF advantage to 26-24. After a FAMU timeout, Johnson picked up a kill followed by a Hampton kill as the Gators went on top by four at 28-24. The Rattlers called their last timeout and picked up the next point before a kill from Douglas set up match point at 29-25. Florida A&M fought off one point, before the contest ended with a Bowers kill. Hampton paced UF with eight kills on .467 hitting, while Davis and Cusack each had six digs.

 

Florida will return to action tomorrow when the Gators take on Arizona State for the right to advance to the Gainesville Regional (Sweet 16) next Friday. Tomorrow’s match can be seen for free via GatorVision Online and it will be carried on Rock 104 and www.GatorZone.com.

 

Arizona State 3, College of Charleston 1

Staci Smith finished with a match-high 18 kills on .536 hitting in leading Arizona State to its first NCAA win since 2002 with a 3-1 victory against the College of Charleston (30-26, 30-23, 29-31, 30-20) in the opening contest of the Gainesville Sub-Regional.

 

The Sun Devils (16-14) finished with more kills (70-59) and blocks (11.5-.40), while out-hitting the Cougars (27-8) .292 to .139. Arizona State libero Sydney Donahue collected 24 digs to break the all-time Pac-10 record with 719 digs on the season.

 

Tiffany Blum and Deanna Patrick led the College of Charleston with 15 kills each.

 

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