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Friday December 8, 2006No. 8 Seed Minnesota Knocks Off VB Before Crowd of 4,180

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -

Junior Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) tied for the match-high with 16 kills before a Florida NCAA Regional record crowd of 4,180 fans, but it wasn’t enough as strong serving propelled the No. 8 seed Minnesota to a 3-1 win (23-30, 30-25, 21-30, 26-30) on Saturday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

The Gophers (26-7) advanced to the Gainesville Regional final on Saturday at 4 p.m. where Minnesota will face No. 1 seed Nebraska (30-1), which beat San Diego 3-0 earlier in the evening.

 

Florida ended the season with a 30-3 record in falling at home in the NCAA Championship for the first time since 1995. Minnesota finished the match with more kills (66-58), aces (13-2) and digs (67-61), while the Gators out-blocked the Gophers 10.0-9.0

 

“The difference in this match was how well Minnesota played, particularly their serving,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “We had trouble with their serve all night. The loss hurts. There’s only one team who gets to end on a win, but what this team has accomplished – to win an SEC Championship – I can’t say enough about what this Florida team has accomplished.”

 

Junior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) collected a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs, while freshman libero Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) tied for the match high with 23 digs. Junior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) had 48 assists, six kills on .417 hitting and five digs. Sophomore middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) recorded 10 kills five blocks and five digs.

 

Minnesota used a late 7-1 run to turn a one-point game into a 30-23 win in the opening frame. Things were tight early on with neither team building more than a two-point advantage before the media timeout. The Gators had three different leads of two-points, the last of which came after a tandem block from Bowers and McGinnis to make it 7-5. Minnesota answered with three straight to move in front 8-7. The Gators went back in front 9-8 on kills from Hampton and Killingsworth before the Gophers retook control with a pair of points before Florida responded on a Killingsworth kill from the left side followed by an UM attack error as UF led 11-10. The Gophers captured the lead 12-11 and eventually tallied three consecutive points to move ahead 16-13. The Gators came back within one at 17-16 after a Minnesota attack error, but the Gophers tallied three of four points to open up another three-point advantage at 21-18 and force UF to use its first timeout. Out of the timeout, Minnesota picked up an ace to build its lead to four. The Gators claimed the next point on a UM attack error, but the Gophers then notched the next three to move ahead 25-19 with Florida then using its last timeout. UF picked up the next two on a pair of Hampton kills, but Minnesota scored four of six to close out the game. The Gophers out-hit Florida .200-.146 in the game and picked up four aces. McGinnis, Hampton, Killingsworth and Bowers each recorded three kills for Florida, while Hampton and Cusack each had four digs.

 

 

Florida expanded on a three-point lead with a late 4-0 run before fending off a Minnesota rally as UF won the second game 30-25. Things were tight early on with the Gators building an early two-point lead after a Gopher attack error made the score 8-6 in favor of UF. Minnesota fought back to tie the game at 9-9, but the Gators then went on a 5-1 run to move in front 14-9 in forcing Minnesota to call a timeout after Florida got to 14 on a UM ball handling error. The teams sided out until the Gophers notched two in a row to pull within three at 17-14. Minnesota couldn’t get closer before Florida ripped off three-straight points on a UM service error, a Bowers kill on a slide play and a Hampton kill from the pipe as UF opened up a 23-17 lead in forcing the Gophers to use their last timeout. After the break, the Gators found themselves on top 28-19 after a Gopher ball handling error, but Minnesota stormed back with six consecutive points to cut UF’s advantage to three at 28-25. The Gators were up to the challenge with freshman middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) hammering down a kill before the game ended with another UM ball handling error. Florida out-hit Minnesota .225-.146 in the game with Killingsworth leading all players with six kills on .308 hitting. Cusack led all players with nine digs.

 

The Gophers turned a tight game upside down with the final eight points to win the third game 30-21. The Gators got off to a good start with the first three points on a Hampton kill from the back row, a Bowers kill and a Killingsworth kill from the left side. But the Gophers battled back with an 8-1 run to move on top 7-4. The Gators rallied within a point at 10-9 after an attack error by the Gophers, but Minnesota scored four of the next five to move in front 14-10. Florida responded with the next five points to move in front 15-14 at the media timeout. A UM service error started the run and was followed by a McGinnis kill, a Bowers ace that caught the net, a Johnson kill and a Gopher attack error. Minnesota eventually took the lead on a kill at 19-18 and extended its advantage to two at 21-19 after a kill with the Gators using their first timeout. The Gophers scored the first point out of the timeout before Florida fought back with the next two on a Hampton kill from the left side and a Bowers kill on a slide play. Minnesota answered with a 3-0 run to build its lead back to four at 25-21 as UF called its final timeout. Florida didn’t have an answer out of the timeout and the Gophers notched the final five points. Minnesota out-hit Florida .409-.300 in the game. Hampton tied for game-high honors with six kills on .429 hitting, while Cusack had five digs.

 

Minnesota again out-distanced the Gators in the closing stages of the final game with a 5-2 run to win the game 30-26. The Gophers couldn’t have started the game better as UM raced out to a 10-5 advantage before the Gators answered with four-straight points on a Killingsworth kill, a pair of Minnesota errors and a tandem block from McCray and Johnson to come within one at 10-9. The Gophers responded with a 4-0 run of their own to jump back in front 14-9. The Gators battled back within two after a 3-0 run made the score 15-13.The times sided out until Minnesota went on a 4-1 run to extend their advantage to 23-18 as UF called its last timeout. The Gators responded with a tandem block from Johnson and McCray and came within three after a UM ball handling error at 23-20. With Minnesota in front 25-21, Florida scored three straight and was within one at 25-24 after a Killingsworth kill. But the Gophers had the answer and collected a kill before Killingsworth again picked up a point with a kill from the left side. Minnesota notched the next three points to set up match point at 29-25. Johnson staved off one with a kill down the middle before the contest ended with a Gopher kill. UM out-hit Florida .244-.222 in the game. Killingsworth paced UF with five kills on .300 hitting, while Cusack had five digs.

 

Florida capped its 2006 season by reaching 30 wins for the 12th time in 16 seasons under Wise. The Gators also claimed the program’s 16th consecutive Southeastern Conference title to match a conference record.

 

No. 1 Nebraska 3, No. 16 San Diego 0

The top-ranked and No. 1 seed Huskers defeated the Toreros in the opening match of the regional for the second time in 2006 in a 3-0 (30-21, 30-20, 30-15) victory.

 

Sarah Pavan paced all players with 15 kills on .500 hitting and added five total players to amass 19.0 total points. Nebraska (30-1) out-hit San Diego (26-6) .385 to .071 and collected more kills (47-36), aces (7-0) digs (43-34) and blocks (11.0-2.0) in advancing to Saturday’s 4 p.m. regional final.

 

Nebraska improved to 9-0 on the season against ranked opponents and achieved at least 30 wins for the 18th time in school history.

 

Jordan Larson also excelled for the Huskers with eight kills and a match-high three aces, while Kori Cooper added nine kills on .571 hitting with a match-high six blocks.

 

Kristen Carlson led San Diego with 10 kills and nine digs, while Christie Dawson and Laurel Abrahamson added seven kills each.

 

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