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Amber McCray led all players in kills (16), points (19.5) and blocks (7)

Friday December 9, 2005McCray Leads VB To NCAA Elite Eight With Sweep of No. 7 Louisville

OMAHA, Neb.

Amber McCray led all players in kills (16), points (19.5) and blocks (7)

Sophomore opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) finished with career and match highs in kills, points and blocks in leading fourth-ranked and eighth-seeded Florida to a sweep of seventh-ranked and ninth-seeded Louisville (30-28, 30-25, 30-22) in the Omaha Regional Semifinals on Friday before an NCAA record crowd at the Qwest Center of more than 13,500 fans.

 

Florida will face No. 1 seed Nebraska on Saturday at 6 p.m. (ET) for the right to advance to the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio.

 

Florida (33-2) improved to 23-13 vs. ranked teams in NCAA play under coach Mary Wise and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals for the 12th time in 15 seasons – the most in the nation in that span.

 

The Gators did so by out-blocking the fifth-best team in the country 10.0-8.0 as the Cardinals (31-3) were out-blocked for just the third time this season. Florida finished with more kills (62-46), aces (6-5) and digs (68-57), while out-hitting Louisville .307-.219.

 

“Obviously, this is a huge win for our team to come in here and beat a very talented Louisville team in three games,” Wise said. “We thought Amber could get some good looks on the right side and Angie McGinnis did a great job of getting her the ball. It was a special performance by Amber tonight.”

 

McCray led all players with 16 kills on .387 hitting with seven block assists and 19.5 points – all career bests. Senior outside hitter Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) also fared well for UF with 15 kills and 19 digs – her 45th career double-double. Sophomore middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) added 10 kills on .400 hitting and four blocks.

 

Sophomore setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) finished with 43 assists, seven kills on .538 hitting and five digs. In collecting her assist total, she broke the Florida record for assists by a sophomore with 1,546.

 

Senior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) picked up 11 digs during the match and moved into second place in career digs in Florida history with 1,361.

 

The victory marked Florida’s first sweep of a top 10 opponent since knocking off No. 4 Stanford in three games on Sept. 6, 2003 in Palo Alto, Calif. The Gators also improved their record against top-10 teams to 8-7 in their last 15 contests.

 

The opening game was a tight affair before Florida used a 6-0 run midway through before fighting off a late Louisville rally in a 30-28 win. The Gators scored the first four points of the game before the Cardinals came back within one at 4-3. The teams remained within three points of each other with Louisville taking leads of 14-13 and 15-14. But the Gators then unloaded six consecutive points behind the serve of freshman defensive specialist Christina Diaz (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.). UF was in control after a kill by McGinnis put the Gators on top 28-23. But the Cardinals came back with four straight points to pull within one at 28-27. The Gators responded when Killingsworth tallied a kill. The Cardinals fought off a match point in making the score 29-28, but Florida closed out the game when McGinnis caught Louisville off guard with a dink that fell for a kill. The Gators hit .300 in the game with Collymore tallying six kills to lead UF with McCray and Killingsworth adding four each. Sophomore outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.)  led all players with eight digs.

 

Florida recorded runs of 6-0 and 5-1 in the second game and they proved to be the difference as the Gators picked up a 30-25 win. With Louisville opening things with a 2-1 lead, Florida came back with six straight points behind the serve of Engel with Killingsworth adding a pair of blocks in the stretch as Florida went on top 7-2. UF maintained its lead and even extended it to as much as seven at 15-8 following a kill from sophomore middle blocker Kari Klinkenborg (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) before the Cardinals regrouped and chipped away at the Gator advantage, coming as close as three at 21-18. After a Florida timeout, the Gators tallied five of six points with McCray providing a pair of kills in the run as UF rebuilt its lead to 26-19. Louisville came within four at 28-24 and 29-25, but the McCray ended the game with a shot from the right side that hit off Cardinal hands and fell for a kill. McCray led all players with seven kills on the game on .357 hitting, while Hampton added five at a .385 efficiency. Collymore paced all players with 11 digs in the frame.

 

The third game was tight until Florida streaked past the Cardinals with a 7-0 run in the final stages of the game in a 30-22 win. Neither team had scored more than three consecutive points until the Gators went on their run after falling behind 21-19. Killingsworth ignited the stretch with a kill on the slide before Collymore tied the game at 21-21 with a kill. With Diaz again serving well, Klinkenborg followed with a solo block, Collymore added a solo block of her own and then the Cardinals called a timeout with UF leading 23-21. The momentum didn’t stop as Klinkenborg notched a kill followed by a Collymore offspeed kill and a Louisville attack error and the Gators found themselves ahead 26-21. The Cardinals tallied the next point, but Florida answered with the last four of the match, two of which were aces by McGinnis, including the final point after her serve caught net and fell over to end the match. Collymore tied for the game high with six kills, while McCray added five kills on .400 hitting. The Gators tallied 5.0 blocks in the game – led by Klinkenborg, who had four.

 

Florida will return to action Saturday for the chance to advance to the program’s eighth Final Four. The contest will be televised live on ESPNU and will also be carried on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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