Sophomore opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) tallied
a career-high 17.0 points and 15 kills on .636 hitting in leading No. 5 Florida
to its 32nd straight victory against Kentucky 3-0 (30-22, 30-24,
30-27) Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 2,345 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Senior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton,
Colo.) ended the contest with a match-high
23 digs as Florida
(14-1, 4-0) won its 15th consecutive Southeastern Conference home
opener under Mary Wise. The Gators finished with more kills (51-49), digs
(63-57), aces (4-2) and total blocks (8.5-8.0), while out-hitting Kentucky
(9-5, 2-2) .294-.160.
“This was a good,
well-played, hard-earned win to beat this team 3-0,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “Amber was
pretty solid today. What I loved about her performance even more than the 15
kills was the four blocks. You’ve got to give credit to Kentucky - their staff is doing a great job.
I think they can win a lot of matches because of the play of their seniors.”
Engel’s 23 digs marked the
14th 20-dig match of her career. Senior outside hitter Jane Collymore (Engelwood, Colo.)
picked up three service aces to move into fifth in UF history for career aces
with 150 and also became just the fifth player in school history to amass 1,300
career kills after posting six. Sophomore outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) also fared well for the Gators with 10 kills,
nine digs and a pair of blocks, while sophomore setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser,
Mich.) finished with 41
assists, nine digs, four kills and a block.
The opening game was tight
until the Gators used an 8-0 run midway through to boost a two-point lead to 10
points before claiming a 30-22 win. The teams frequently sided out until a UF
attack error pulled the Wildcats within two at 15-13. But after a kill from McCray,
Engel served eight straight points for the Gators with sophomore middle blocker
Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.)
providing a pair of kills in the stretch. Florida’s lead swelled from two to 10 points
at 23-13. Kentucky came as close as six at 27-21,
eventually ended the game on a kill from McCray on the right side. McCray led
all players with seven kills in the game, while Engel tied for the game-high
with five digs.
The second game was
closer, but the Gators slowly pulled away in the latter stages for a 30-24 win.
The Wildcats held early leads, but after a kill from McCray gave the Gators a
13-12 lead, Kentucky
never led the rest of the way. McCray’s kill was part of a 5-0 Gator run that
gave UF a 16-12 advantage. The Wildcats never seriously threatened the rest of
the way before the game ended with a McCray offspeed kill. Collymore and McCray
paced UF with four kills apiece in the game, while Engel added a game-high 10
digs. Sophomore middle blocker Kari Klinkenborg
(Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
added three kills and three blocks in the game as well.
The final frame was the
closest in the match with the teams tied as late as 25-25 before Florida pulled away in a
30-27 win. The Gators started well and had leads of varying lengths throughout
the game, including a five-point margin after a UK service error at 15-10. Florida again was on top by five at 21-16 after a Kentucky attack error.
But the Wildcats didn’t go away as a 4-0 run eventually tied the game at 25-25.
But the Gators were up to the challenge as a kill down the line by McCray
followed by a Hampton
offspeed kill put UF ahead 27-25. Following a Kentucky point, the Gators scored two more
on a Killingsworth kill and a Klinkenborg kill. The Wildcats came back with
another point to make it 29-27, but Hampton
closed the match with a kill on the left side.
paced the Gators with five kills in the game, while Engel record a game-high
Florida returns to action Friday, Oct. 7 when the Gators
at 4 p.m. at the O’Connell Center. The match will be broadcast on Sun Sports as
well as WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com.
The O’Connell Center
parking garage will be available for volleyball fans beginning at 2 p.m. on
Friday. Fans are encouraged to enter the parking garage via SW 2nd Ave.