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Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray tied her career high in kills on Saturday night.

Sunday November 25, 2007No. 8 VB Drops Five-Game Thriller To Long Beach State

Gainesville, FL

Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray tied her career high in kills on Saturday night.

Despite a career high-tying 24 kills from senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas), the No. 8 University of Florida volleyball team dropped a five-game (26-30, 30-22, 38-36, 20-30, 18-20) decision to Long Beach State on Saturday night.

 

McCray led a group of five Gators with double-figure kill totals on the night, as senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.), senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.), junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) and freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) each posted 14 in the contest.

 

Senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) was the catalyst of the UF offense, handing out a career-high 75 assists on the night to tie for the fourth-highest single-match total in school history.

 

“This was as gutsy a match as we’ve played in a long time,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “I am so proud of my team for the way they battled the entire time. Hats off to Long Beach State, particularly their libero, for the way they played.”

 

Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) turned in a team-high 28 digs on the night to reach the 20-dig mark for the 10th time this season. The 28 digs were just one shy of her season high. Rivers came up with 14 digs on the night to qualify for her second-consecutive double-double, and freshman defensive specialist Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) chipped in with 10 in the match.

 

Florida (27-2, 19-1 Southeastern Conference) out-blocked The Beach by a margin of 14.5-12.0, paced by Bowers’ seven block assists. McGinnis chalked up six block assists on the night to move past Martha Ryans for seventh on the Florida career total blocks list. Killingsworth also finished the night with a half-dozen blocks.

 

Florida got a pair of early kills from McCray, but found itself facing a 7-4 deficit at the outset of game one. Rivers came up with a kill to pull the Gators within one at 9-8, but The Beach captured six of the next eight points to force a UF timeout with the score at 15-10. A kill and an ace on consecutive points by Hampton narrowed the gap to 18-15, and a block by Hampton and Killingsworth brought UF within a point at 22-21. An LBSU attack error tied the game at 23-23, but Florida was forced to use another timeout after the 49ers took back-to-back points to grab a 26-24 lead. Long Beach State won the first two points out of the break to extend its lead to 28-24, and, after McCray staved off one game point with a kill, LBSU was able to take game one, 30-26. McCray tallied seven kills and McGinnis handed out 17 assists in the opener to lead a Florida attack that hit .375 in the opener.

 

Long Beach State jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in game two before a Rivers kill got UF on the board, and the Gators fought back to take a 5-4 lead on a 49ers’ attack error. A 3-0 run allowed Long Beach State to take a 9-8 edge, but a McCray kill and an LBSU attack error turned the tables and put UF on top by an 11-10 count. Florida opened up a 19-17 advantage, and forced a Long Beach State timeout, on back-to-back kills by McCray and Rivers, and a Killingsworth kill out of the break ran the score to 20-17 in the Gators’ favor. A kill by Bowers prompted another timeout by Long Beach State with the Orange and Blue holding a 23-19 lead, and UF took the first two points after the stoppage, highlighted by an ace from Fleming, to run the edge to 25-19. Florida’s lead grew to 28-21 late in the game after three-consecutive kills, including two by Bowers, and Killingsworth sealed the game for UF, 30-22, with her fifth kill of the night. Bowers paced the Gators to a .395 hitting percentage in the game with five kills, while UF picked up 16 digs to limit LBSU to a hitting efficiency of .000.

 

McCray was active early in game three, recording a pair of kills to help UF jump out to a 4-2 lead and force Long Beach State to call its first timeout of the stanza. The 49ers took the first two points out of the break to tie the count at 4-4, and the teams sided out until LBSU captured consecutive points to take an 8-6 lead. An ace by Killingsworth tied the score at 10-10, and Rivers killed an overpass on the next rally to force Long Beach State’s second timeout with the Gators on top, 11-10. Florida opened up a 14-12 lead after an LBSU service error, but the hosts fought back to knot the score at 15-15 before UF asked for its first timeout of the game. The teams traded points until Long Beach State moved out to a 21-19 advantage, but Florida battled back to tie the score at 24-24 on a kill and an ace by McGinnis on consecutive points before Hampton came up with a kill to put UF up, 25-24. A McCray kill capped Florida’s run at 4-0, leaving them with a 27-24 lead, but LBSU stormed back with three-straight points to tie the score at 27-27 and force the Gators to ask for timeout. Down 29-28, McCray fought off game point with a kill down the line, and Rivers did the same two rallies later to knot the score at 30-30. UF got a game-point opportunity on an LBSU attack error, but the 49ers came up with two-straight points to grab a 32-31 edge. McGinnis placed one in the back left corner to tie the score at 32-32, and Bowers rebounded with a kill after a Long Beach State point to deadlock the score at 33-33 before LBSU was called for a ball-handling error to give UF another game-point opportunity at 34-33. The Gators took a 36-35 advantage on another LBSU ball-handling error, but The Beach responded with a block to tie the score at 36-36. A kill by Killingsworth put UF on top by a 37-36 score, and Florida captured the game on the next rally on a block assist by Bowers and Rivers, ending the Gators’ longest game of the campaign. Florida piled up 5.5 total blocks and recorded 16 digs in game three, while Hampton led the offensive charge with a half-dozen kills.

 

The Gators found themselves facing a 7-2 deficit in the early stages of game four, and The Beach used a 6-2 run to open up a 14-6 lead near the midway point. A 3-0 UF run brought the Gators back within seven at 18-11, but Long Beach State collected the next three points to extend its lead to 21-11 and force Florida to call its second timeout. The Gators took the first three points out of the break to move within seven at 21-14, and the margin was narrowed to six, 22-16, after consecutive kills by McCray and Rivers. Florida, however, couldn’t draw closer than a half-dozen before LBSU was able to extend the match to a fifth game with a 30-20 victory. Rivers had four kills in the frame to lead the Orange and Blue on offense, and Cusack piled up seven digs in the frame to serve as Florida’s defensive leader.

 

The teams sided out to open game five, with Bowers providing a pair of kills for the Gators, until a McCray kill propelled Florida to a 7-5 lead and caused The Beach to use its first timeout of the stanza. The teams switched benches after a kill by freshman opposite hitter Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Fla.) gave UF an 8-6 edge, and the margin increased to 9-6 on the next rally by way of a solo block from Rivers. After a Long Beach State timeout, a pair of McCray kills ran the count to 11-8 in UF’s favor, but the 49ers were able to narrow the margin to 12-10 before the Gators took their first timeout of the game. McGinnis and Bowers put up a double block to take the first point out of the stoppage, but Long Beach State tallied the next two points to force UF into another timeout with a narrow 13-12 advantage. The Beach tied the score with a block on the first rally after the break, but Bledsoe forced match point with a kill down the seam, only to see LBSU tie the score on the next series. The Beach won a ball at the net to force a match point of their own, but Killingsworth ripped kills on consecutive rallies to turn the tide and put UF up, 16-15. The hosts responded with consecutive points to force match point before Killingsworth yet again tied the score with a kill. McCray staved off another game point with a kill for Florida, tying the count at 18-18, but The Beach was able to take the next two points and the match as a back row attack was called on the Gators to end the contest.

 

Florida will learn its assignment for the opening rounds of the NCAA Championship on Sunday night, as ESPNU will televise the selection show live at 8 p.m. ET.

 

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