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Sunday November 18, 2007No. 7 VB Sweeps Mississippi State On Senior Day

Gainesville, FL

Freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) posted a dozen kills and senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) added 11 to lead the seventh-ranked University of Florida volleyball team to a 3-0 (30-23, 30-19, 30-26) win over Mississippi State on Sunday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

Florida’s four seniors – outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.), middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.), McCray and setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) – were honored on Sunday after playing their final regular-season match at the O’Connell Center.

 

“There are always a lot of emotions involved with Senior Day, and it’s a great feeling to see the seniors go out with a win,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “They have meant so much to this program, and the fact that they were able to lead this team to a 19-1 record in such a tough SEC this season is a testament to their ability.”

 

Florida (26-1, 19-1 Southeastern Conference) hit .304 as a team, marking its sixth-consecutive match with a rating of .300 or better, on Sunday, led by a .600 performance from junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.). McCray hit .526 on the day and Killingsworth posted a .429 mark, as McGinnis directed the offense with 41 assists.

 

Florida got a team-high 15 digs from sophomore libero/defensive specialist Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.), moving her past the 1,000-dig mark for her career. She is the fastest player in UF history to surpass that milestone, and just the second player in SEC history to do it as a sophomore. Hampton chipped in nine digs and freshman defensive specialist Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) added eight in the win. Bowers and McGinnis led the charge at the net for UF, picking up three blocks apiece.

 

Rivers also tied her career high with four aces to pace a Florida squad the piled up 10 on the day.

 

With the victory, the Gators finished the regular season with an undefeated home record for the third year in a row, and the 11th time in Wise’s tenure. The win was their 10th in a row, and their 27th-straight regular-season SEC victory at the O’Connell Center.

 

Florida’s seniors were active early in game one, as the Gators jumped out to a 7-4 lead behind kills from McCray and McGinnis and a double block by Hampton and Killingsworth. MSU fought back to grab a 9-8 lead, but a block assist by McGinnis and Bowers and Hampton’s first kill of the afternoon helped UF work its way back to a 15-13 advantage and force a Bulldogs timeout. Mississippi State battled back to square the match at 20-20, but a pair of kills by McCray and Killingsworth’s second ace of the frame propelled Florida back out to a 23-21 edge. Kills by Rivers and Bowers on consecutive rallies pushed the score to 25-22 in Florida’s favor, and the Gators ended the game on a 7-0 run to take the opener by a count of 30-23. Bowers had five kills on five swings to lead the UF attack to a .333 hitting percentage in the game, while Cusack and Fleming combined for eight of Florida’s 12 digs.

 

The Gators ripped off a 10-2 game-opening run in game two on the strength of two aces by Fleming, but MSU refused to fold and was able to cut the deficit to four points, 15-12, midway through the game. After the Gators regrouped with a timeout, a solo block by Rivers and a pair of kills by sophomore middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) extended the margin to 19-14. A Hampton kill and an ace by Rivers prompted an MSU timeout with UF on top by a score of 21-14 and in the midst of a 3-0 run, but Johnson and McGinnis double-teamed a block and Rivers fired another ace out of the break to push the lead to 23-14. The margin reached double figures, 24-14, on the next rally courtesy of a Johnson kill, and Florida’s lead didn’t dip below nine before Rivers closed out a 30-19 game-two win with her team-high fourth kill of the frame. Hampton, Johnson and Killingsworth chipped in with three kills apiece, and both Rivers and Fleming had two aces in game two.

 

The score was knotted at 5-5 after the first 10 points of game three, but the Gators were able to open up a 9-6 lead after Killingsworth and McCray each hit for a pair of kills. MSU came back to take an 11-9 lead, but Killingsworth and Rivers responded with kills to even the count. Florida was able to run out to a 15-13 lead on a Bulldogs attack error and a Rivers ace that caught the net tape, forcing Mississippi State to call for a stoppage of play. Hampton helped UF reach the 20-point mark with a three point lead by sandwiching a kill and an ace around a kill by McCray, and the Gators’ lead didn’t fall below two for the remainder of the game before Bowers capped the match with her seventh kill of the afternoon.

 

Florida will venture outside of the conference for the final weekend of regular-season play, taking on Yale on Friday night to open the Baden Thanksgiving Tournament at Long Beach State. WRUF-Am 850 will carry the match at 8 p.m. ET, and the call can also be heard at www.GatorZone.com.

 

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