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Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray led all players in kills Sunday night with 18.

Sunday September 9, 2007McCray Sparks No. 6 VB To 3-1 Win At Utah

Salt Lake City, UT

Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray led all players in kills Sunday night with 18.

Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) posted a season-high 18 kills to propel the sixth-ranked University of Florida volleyball team to a 3-1 (30-28, 28-30, 30-18, 30-26) win over Utah on Sunday evening at Crimson Court.

 

With the win, Florida (7-0) will head into the Southeastern Conference season with an unblemished record for the first time since 1995, and just the second time in head coach Mary Wise’s tenure. The victory also marked the Gators’ third road win in as many tries this season – a feat that the Orange and Blue hadn’t accomplished since 2004.

 

“We knew coming in that every point was going to be contested, and we fought hard the whole way,” Wise said. “Utah is not an easy place to win for a road team, and tonight was a fun match. We didn’t have a great offensive night, but we stepped up our defensive play and really used it to our advantage.”

 

Florida piled up a season-high 16.5 team blocks to reach double figures for the third-straight match, while holding Utah (2-5) to .132 hitting percentage for the match. The Gators also recorded a season-best 73 digs to outdistance the Utes by a dozen, 73-61.

 

McCray’s 18 kills came on .389 hitting, and led a trio of Gators with double-figure kill totals. Senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) killed 15 balls on the night, while adding 19 digs to earn her 31st-career double-double, and senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) chipped in with a season-high 13 kills, which came via an efficiency rating of .500.

 

Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) led all players with 23 digs, marking her ninth-career match with at least 20 and her 10th-straight with a double-figure dig total, while junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) added 10 total blocks to lead all participants and reach double digits for the fifth time in her career. Senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) handed out a match-high 57 assists, missing her season high by just a pair, while also adding five kills and five digs.

 

Utah jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the opening game, but a pair of kills and a solo block by McCray swung the momentum in UF’s favor. After Florida drew with a point at 6-7, the Utes took four of the next five points to open up a 10-7 advantage. A Utah ball handling error and a kill by senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) brought UF within one again, but U of U once again increased its lead, moving to a 17-11 advantage in the ensuing action. The Gators roared back to take a 19-18 lead on the strength of kills by Bowers and Hampton and a pair of Gator blocks, prompting the Utes to call their first timeout. A kill by Killingsworth put the Gators up multiple points for the first time, 21-19, but Utah scored the next to points to level the score. Florida took the next two points to jump out in front by a pair, 23-21, and maintained that edge until Hampton knocked a kill off the block for a 26-23 margin. The Orange and Blue took a four-point lead, 27-23, on the next point when Hampton and Bowers combined to stuff an attack by the Utes, but U of U came back to take four of the next five points and creep back to within one, 28-27. Hampton forced game point with a kill off the block, and, after a Utah score, Bowers put the game away with a kill down the right side to make the final score 30-28. Killingsworth and McCray both killed a team-high five balls in the frame, while Cusack tied for the game high with six digs and Bowers led all players with three blocks.

 

Game two started off in the same fashion, as Utah opened up a 3-0 lead before increasing its advantage to 5-2. A kill by Bowers and consecutive block assists by the duo of McGinnis and Bowers tied the score at 5-5, and a Utah attack error gave UF its first lead of the game at 6-5. The Utes came back to take a 13-9 advantage, but three kills by McCray, a block assist by Hampton and Bowers and an overpass by freshman defensive specialist Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) powered a 4-0 Florida run that enabled the Gators to retake the lead, 14-13. Utah, however, refused to go away, and battled back to claim a 17-15 lead, but two McGinnis kills sandwiched an ace by Hampton as the Gators moved back in front, 18-17. The Utes charged back to take a 20-19 lead, but McGinnis immediately tied the score with her third kill of the game.  The run of play saw the score tied at 26-26 late in the game after a kill by redshirt freshman outside hitter Janine Williams (Gainesville, Fla.), but the Utes took a one-point lead by way of a UF attack error on the next rally and finished off the game, 30-28, by taking four of the next six points. McCray had six kills in the frame to total 11 at the intermission, while Bowers had another three blocks to bring her tally to half a dozen.

 

Hampton’s fifth kill of the night got UF off to a good start in game three, as it was the Gators’ turn to open a multi-point lead, charging to a 5-0 edge to open the frame and force a timeout by U of U. A ball-handling error by the Utes followed the stoppage, and a kill on an off-speed shot by McCray made the tally 7-0 before Utah got on the board. Hampton caught fire for the Gators midway through the game, putting away three-straight kills as UF opened up a cushion that reached as many as 11 points. After Utah cut the lead to nine 20-11, the Gators pushed their advantage to as many as a baker’s dozen and didn’t let Utah within less than 10 for the remainder of the game en route to assuming a 2-1 edge in the match. Hampton recorded seven kills in the game-three effort, leading the Gators to a .361 hitting percentage in the stanza. The UF defense was also on fire during the third game, holding the Utes to a .057 efficiency mark.

 

The teams traded the first 10 points of game four before Utah was able to spring out to a 7-5 lead. UF fought back to tie the score at 8-8 on a Utah error, but the Utes took the next two points. McCray’s 17th kill of the night brought the Gators back within one, and a ball-handling error on the Utes knotted the count at 10 before Killingsworth slammed a kill down the middle and another U of U ball-handling error put Florida up, 12-10. Florida was the first team to 15 in the game, reaching that mark on a kill that Williams skipped off the hands of the Utah block to give UF a 15-13 lead at the media timeout. Three blocks propelled the Gators to the 20-point mark with a 20-17 lead, and Hampton extended the margin to 22-17 courtesy of Hampton, who produced a kill and an ace on consecutive plays. The Utes battled back to tie the score, 24-24, but Florida quickly retook the lead on a kill by Williams. Utah again tied the score with a kill on the next rally, but Hampton answered with a kill at a sharp angle to put her team back in front, 26-25. The home team tied the score again before Killingsworth scored another kill and the Gators forced four hits on Utah to take a 28-26 lead. An attack error by the Utes gave Florida a match-point opportunity at 29-26, and McGinnis took advantage with an ace to seal the game and the match for UF.

 

Florida will open the SEC season at home against Georgia on Friday night, with action slated to begin at 7 p.m. The match can be heard on Rock 104, or at www.GatorZone.com, and GatorVision subscribers will be able to view the match live on the Internet.

 

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