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
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
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
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.
- UF –