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Thursday November 29, 2007Rivers and McCray Propel No. 10 VB To First-Round Sweep of College of Charleston

Gainesville, FL

The tenth-ranked and 13th-seeded University of Florida volleyball team got a career-high 18 kills from freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) and 16 from senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) to open the 2007 NCAA Championship with a three-game sweep (30-22, 30-28, 30-14) of College of Charleston.

 

Senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) dished out 54 assists – one shy of her three-game UF record – en route to setting the Gators (28-2) to a .350 hitting percentage that ranks as the ninth-best in school history in an NCAA Championship match. In addition to Rivers and McCray’s totals, senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) added 13 kills on an errorless .619 hitting and junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.) chipped in with eight.

 

College of Charleston plays very disciplined volleyball, and we had to earn everything tonight,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Our freshmen really answered the call, and the senior leadership was certainly in the forefront. This was step one tonight, and now we have to focus on a good Oklahoma team for tomorrow.”

 

Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) led the defensive effort with 24 digs – the third-best NCAA Championship total in school history. Rivers contributed 11 digs to qualify for her third-straight double-double. UF also chalked up 10.0 blocks on the night, paced by Bowers’ four, to limit the Cougars to a .143 hitting efficiency.

 

The Gators ran their all-time record to 11-0 in first-round NCAA action, and won its third-ever match against a Southern Conference team in the NCAA Championship.

 

Florida jumped out to a 3-1 lead behind kills from McCray and Rivers, but C of C came back with a 5-1 run of its own to take a 6-4 edge. McCray gave the Gators a 12-11 lead with her third kill of the frame, setting off a 3-0 Florida run that sent the hosts into the media timeout with a 15-11 advantage. UF got three quick kills from McCray after the break to open up an 18-12 margin, but a 3-1 run helped the Cougars narrow the gap to 19-16. A pair of Rivers kills forced a College of Charleston timeout with the Gators on top by a count of 23-18, and C of C couldn’t draw closer than three for the rest of the game. Freshman defensive specialist Erin Fleming (Orlando, Fla.) delivered an ace down the stretch and McGinnis and Bowers put the finishing touch on the 30-22 win with the team’s third block of the night. McCray notched eight kills and McGinnis dished out 19 assists to pace a UF offense that hit .431 in the opener.

 

The Gators were forced into an early timeout in the second game after College of Charleston raced out to a 6-2 lead. Freshman opposite hitter Lauren Bledsoe (Long Beach, Calif.) was involved in a pair of blocks to help UF cut the deficit to 8-6, and the margin remained at two points, 15-13, when the game reached its midway point. A C of C ball-handling error brought Florida within a point at 18-17, and the Gators drew even at 19-19 on a double block from Bledsoe and Killingsworth. After College of Charleston grabbed a 22-20 lead, McCray and Rivers fired kills on consecutive rallies to even the score, but the Cougars ripped off the next three points to move in front, 25-22, and force a UF timeout. The Orange and Blue came roaring out of the break, scoring the first four points behind kills from McCray and sophomore middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) to tie the score at 26-26 before taking a one-point lead on a Rivers kill. College of Charleston rebounded to win back-to-back rallies and regain the edge at 28-27, but Bowers registered consecutive kills to force game point and a well-placed Bledsoe tip found the fingers of a C of C player in the back row before falling to the floor and wrapping up a 30-28 game-two victory for the Gators. Rivers led UF with five kills in the frame, while Cusack tallied nine digs to lead the way on defense.

 

The teams sided out over the first six points of game three before the Gators used a 4-0 run, capped by a Bowers’ solo block, to move in front by a score of 7-3 and force a C of C timeout. UF took the first five points after the stoppage behind another ace by Fleming and kills from Rivers and Bowers, increasing its run to 9-0 and its lead to 12-3 – all on a service run by Fleming. The Gators opened up a double-digit lead at 16-6 on a kill by Killingsworth, and a solo block from McCray sent the Cougars into their second timeout with Florida holding a 19-6 advantage. Six-straight UF kills made the score 25-10, and McCray’s 16th and final kill of the night set up match point, which Florida obtained via a C of C attack error. Rivers had seven kills on .417 hitting in the decisive frame, while Killingsworth added five on an errorless .625 hitting.

 

The night’s first match saw Oklahoma claim a 3-1 (30-25, 32-30, 29-31, 30-14) win over Florida A&M behind 21 kills from senior outside hitter Mariana Blum. Senior libero Hannah Sharp recorded 31 digs for the Sooners, who limited FAMU to .096 hitting. The Rattlers were led by senior outside hitter Iva Lakic, who tallied 27 kills on a school-record 92 swings.

 

UF and the Sooners will clash at 7 p.m. on Friday night for a berth in next week’s NCAA Gainesville Regional. WRUF-AM 850 will carry the radio broadcast, as will www.GatorZone.com, while GatorVision Online will stream live action of the match via the Internet free of charge.

 

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