Gator Volleyball History
|2005 Gator Volleyball
Year In Review
Pull out a thesaurus, thumb through the pages to the word consistent and here's what you'll find: constant, dependable, expected, invariable, persistent, same, steady, true, unchanging, undeviating, unfailing, uniform, unvarying.
Each and every single one of those words describes … actually, that's not correct, they define the University of Florida's volleyball program. But there's a problem - only 13 synonyms. Florida's been leaving its imprint on collegiate volleyball for 15 years. The Gators have been doing this so long, Webster's run out of words to describe their remarkableness.
And so, another season came in 2005 and another banner-year resulted for Florida. The list of achievements, in fitting fashion, reads like those of any other in the last 15 years: Southeastern Conference title, NCAA Elite Eight appearance, three All-Americans, SEC Player of the Year, cumulative team grade point average of 3.3, undefeated home season, top 10 in the nation in attendance, No. 3 ranking in the final AVCA poll, etc.
Like every year since Mary Wise arrived in Gainesville in 1991 - the list, quite literally, could go on and on and on. The hard part is taking for granted the consistency of the University of Florida volleyball program. But, make no mistake, the 2005 Gators were a unique group with unique accomplishments under unique circumstances. That, no question, is the consistent hallmark of Florida Volleyball.
The 2005 campaign began with Florida's 26th straight victory against an opponent from the Sunshine State as the Gators swept Jacksonville at home on Aug. 29. UF followed by hosting a highly competitive field in the Aquafina Volleyball Invitational as each of the three teams the Gators faced and swept (Dayton, Missouri State, No. 15 UCSB) eventually made the 2005 NCAA Championship field. The Gators defeated UCSB in three games in the tournament final in front of 4,798 fans - the 10th largest home crowd in school history. Florida then played on Labor Day as the Gators easily took care of Eastern Washington in three games.
Even stronger challenges awaited the Gators next as Florida traveled to San Antonio for the UTSA Dome Rally in the AlamoDome - the largest venue to ever host a collegiate volleyball match. For the first time in Wise's tenure, the Gators faced three ranked teams in three days and came away 2-1 from the event. First, UF handed No. 13 Texas A&M a 3-1 loss in which five Gators finished in double figures in kills as UF made its first of 10 television appearances on the season. Florida then took down No. 8 Southern California in five games as Jane Collymore went ballistic with 30 kills, including 11 of the team's 15 in an incredible game two. The tournament ended on a down note as Florida fell to an impressive 19th-ranked Notre Dame in three games that were each decided by two points.
Florida regrouped by returning to home and sweeping both IPFW and UC Irvine to win the Campus USA Credit Union Classic on Sept. 16-17. The Gators then swept in-state rival Florida State as UF won the 14th-straight meeting between the two squads in Florida's second television appearance of the year.
After wrapping up non-conference play with a 10-1 record, Florida prepared to begin SEC action with three straight matches on the road. UF opened at Mississippi State by winning the school's 15th straight conference opener as Wise improved to 200-3 in SEC regular season matches in a 3-1 win. The team ended the trip to the Magnolia State by taking down Mississippi in three games as the Gators won their 42nd consecutive match against teams from the state.
A mid-week trip to Georgia followed as UF battled former Gator greats Steffi Legall (head coach) and Nicole McCray (assistant coach) who now presided over the Bulldog program. The trend of beating Georgia continued as Florida won its 38th straight match against the Bulldogs in three games.
Finally, the Gators returned to the O'Connell Center to begin the home portion of the SEC schedule and UF promptly swept Kentucky as Amber McCray posted a then-career best 15 kills. The Gators then hosted Tennessee on Oct. 7 and UF swept the eventual Final Four participants on live television as Collymore tallied 16 kills and 20 points.
Kisya Killingsworth dominated South Carolina two days later with a 17-kill performance on .762 hitting as the Gators swept the Gamecocks and moved to 6-0 in the SEC. Georgia made the trip down to Gainesville in a Wednesday showdown on television as six different Gators hit above .300 in UF's 39th-straight win vs. the Bulldogs.
After four-consecutive matches at home, the Gators hit the road and traveled to Lexington where the trend of sweeping opponents continued. Collymore became just the fifth player in school history to be ranked in the top 10 in both kills and digs as the Gators won their 200th straight match against an unranked opponent.
The road trip was short as UF returned to Gainesville to face Arkansas in Florida's fifth television appearance of the year. The Razorbacks entered as one of the best blocking teams in the country, but were no match for the Gators who out-blocked Arkansas in a 3-0 win. LSU came to town on Oct. 23, but the result was the same as two days prior with Florida sweeping the Tigers and moving to 20-1 overall and 10-0 in the SEC.
The Gators next traveled to South Carolina where Collymore became the sixth player in school history to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs as UF won its 33rd straight game in a sweep of the Gamecocks. Florida closed the weekend by dropping an epic five-game match at Tennessee on national television in which the Gators fought back from an 0-2 deficit before falling in five. The contest featured an incredible game four that included 26 ties and 13 lead changes. The Gators fought off five match points in the game before winning 39-37 - the longest game in the rally scoring era for either team. Angie McGinnis provided the highlight of the match by recording the first triple-double in school history after tallying 59 assists, 22 digs and 10 kills.
Despite the loss, Florida controlled its own destiny in the race for its 15th straight SEC title with four matches left to play. The Gators marched west to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 4 in the seventh television match of the season in which Florida remained undefeated all-time against the Crimson Tide at 23-0 in a sweep. Florida then beat Auburn on the road to claim a share of the SEC title as Collymore led all players with 26 kills.
On the final weekend of SEC play, the Gators needed only to win one of two matches to claim the SEC title outright. Florida won both. First up, the Gators defeated Mississippi to tie the Arkansas men's cross country program (1991-present) and the Tennessee men's outdoor track program (1964-78) as the only programs in SEC history in any sport to claim 15 straight conference titles. The Gators wrapped up SEC play by sweeping Mississippi State on senior day as UF won its 25th match of the season and finished the SEC regular season at 15-1.
Florida made its second trip to Tuscaloosa in two weeks for the SEC Tournament as UF drew No. 8 seed Georgia in the opening round. The Gators had little trouble with the Bulldogs as UF swept Georgia in claiming its 40th consecutive win in the series. Next on the agenda was No. 4 seed Arkansas. The Razorbacks came to play and went ahead 2-1 before UF settled down and won the match in five games. Collymore tallied 28 kills and 11 digs, while McGinnis posted a career-best 66 assists. The tournament finale featured host Alabama, but the Gators handed the Tide and their hostile crowd in a 3-0 sweep as UF claimed its 12th SEC Tournament crown in the last 14 seasons. Collymore, who had been named the SEC Player of the Year for the second time three days earlier, earned her third tournament MVP honor of the year and joined just two other Gators in school history to earn SEC All-Tournament Team honors three times.
The Gators returned to the home state of Collymore, Rachel Engel and Kari Klinkenborg during the Thanksgiving holiday for the Wells Fargo Thanksgiving Classic hosted by the University of Denver. Florida played one of its most complete matches of the season in sweeping NCAA Championship participant Colorado in the first match on Nov. 25 before beating a scrappy Denver squad in three games as UF picked up its 30th win of the season - the 11th time in 15 seasons the Gators reached 30 wins.
While traveling back from Denver, the Gators found out their fate in the upcoming NCAA Championship while sitting on the runway at the Atlanta airport - Florida would host first and second round action for the 14th time in 15 seasons as the No. 8 seed in the tournament.
On Dec. 1, the Gators welcomed Florida Atlantic to the O'Connell Center in the first round, but the Owls couldn't have left happy as UF easily won in a sweep in advancing to the second round for the 16th time in program history.
No. 24 Kansas State next awaited the Gators as UF was facing a ranked opponent in the second round for just the third time in school history. K-State proved capable of competing with Florida and held late leads in both the second and third games, but UF refused to go down and swept the Wildcats to move on to the Sweet 16 with game scores of 30-21, 31-29, 30-25. Killingsworth tallied a career-best 19 kills, while Collymore became just the second player in school history to record multiple seasons of 500 kills. As a team, the Gators were on fire offensively as UF hit .361 in the contest and were well above .400 until the latter stages of the match. In the final home contest of 2005, the Gators improved to 18-0 - the eighth time under Wise UF has posted an undefeated home season.
The frigidness of the Omaha Regional was up next for the Gators as UF arrived in Omaha late on a blistery night in which the wind chill was in negative degrees. The frostiness didn't affect Florida on the court as the Gators swept seventh-ranked and ninth-seeded Louisville before an announced crowd of more than 15,000 fans at the Qwest Center. The Cardinals entered the contest as one of the best blocking teams in the nation, but the Gators were able to hit the seam and around the block and even out-do Louisville in its best skill as Florida finished with 10.0 blocks to 8.0 for the Cardinals. The Gators swept a top-10 opponent for the first time since accomplishing the feat against No. 4 Stanford in 2003. The victory was a direct result of the play of McCray, who added a career-best 16 kills and seven blocks as the Gators advanced to the Elite Eight for the 12th time in 15 years - the most appearances by any school in the nation in that span.
Unfortunately, Florida ran into top-ranked and No. 1 seed Nebraska on Dec. 10 in front of a rabid and NCAA record crowd of 15,119 fans. Florida battled the Cornhuskers and held a late lead in the first game, but Nebraska proved too much as the Huskers won in three in a nationally televised match on ESPNU. Collymore, McCray and McGinnis were all honored on the Omaha Regional All-Tournament team, while Engel ended her career second in school history in digs (1,372).
That a program so steeped in NCAA history as Florida was involved in a record-breaking evening for collegiate volleyball was a fitting way for the season to close for UF. The 2005 collection of Gators finished their season with a 33-3 record and yet another NCAA Elite Eight appearance. Florida did so with the largest percentage of underclassmen on its roster of every team but one that advanced to a Regional Final, proving that the spotlight is quite, quite far from ever dimming on the University of Florida volleyball team.
2005 Team Achievements
2005 Individual Honors
2005 Records Broken (School records unless noted)
In the Top 10 in 2005