Another match, another record. So it is for the University of Florida volleyball team, which is now 16-0 overall and 9-0 in the Southeastern Conference, a start that matches the 1987 squad, which generated the second best start in school history.
BONUS: Gators vs. USC Volleyball Photo Gallery
Oh by the way, the Gators are ranked No. 5 nationally and appear to be destined for a 17th consecutive SEC title after throttling Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina during the past few days.
Friday night, the Gators visit Arkansas, which shouldn’t pose a problem, given that UF has dominated at home and on the road.
“I think the reason the wins over Kentucky and Tennessee were so significant was how we played, and the offensive numbers were pretty impressive, particularly playing against two of the better blocking teams in the league and I felt that even coming off the road a week ago that we took a road mentality into the O’Connell Center, with the expectation you might not get every call,” UF coach Mary Wise said. “You expect the other team’s best shot and I think because we came out and played well early, we gave up what we considered were very few unforced points, meaning that our mistakes led to points by the other team and they didn’t have to do anything. That really set the tone in the matches. Once again, our senior class was pretty outstanding.”
None have been better than Angie McGinnis, who broke Heidi Anderson’s 15-year career assist record (4,855) against Kentucky. McGinnis finished Friday’s UK match with 4,890 assists and added 49 against Tennessee Sunday and 36 against South Carolina Wednesday.
“(With) Angie McGinnis, our hitters are getting as good a looks as any class since we’ve been here on a consistent basis right now,” Wise said. “Angie’s really hit her stride. As a result, look at the numbers of Kisya Killingworth, Amber McCray and Marcie Hampton. With Marcie, you don’t put up those numbers as a left-side hitter, but her ability to score from the front row using the entire court – I think the analogy would be a basketball player who’s shooting the ball so well, whether that’s outside the paint or inside—that’s really what Marcie’s doing. She’s getting some pretty good assists along the way.”
McGinnis gives. Others receive. Very few opportunities have been wasted.
“I think it’s a direct reflection of the terminator she has had over the four years,” Wise said. “She’s played with the likes of Jane Collymore, Kisya Killingsworth and Marcie Hampton, the players who can terminate at such a high level. It’s very much a reciprocal relationship. Angie benefits from the hitters around her and our hitters benefit from having Angie setting for them.”
Meanwhile, a veteran team gets better and better and better. Florida returned all of its starters from a year ago, and now the complementary players are starting to find their niche.
“Even if you change one or two spots, there is that growing process,” Wise said. “A year ago, Erin Fleming was in high school and now she’s seeing significant playing time. Neither Janine Williams nor Callie Rivers were playing at this level a year ago. I think we’re hitting our stride as far as making consistent plays. We don’t make as many mistakes in terms of communication. Most of all, I see it in the offense. I see it in terms of where Angie is learning the sets to make for each of her hitters to be successful.”
SOCCER: Happy Birthday to Becky Burleigh. The Florida coach will turn 40 this weekend and fittingly, she is approaching a college soccer milestone. Currently in the midst of her 13th year with the Gators, Burleigh has won 299 games, one short of 300, an accomplishment only four other current Division I coaches have celebrated.
North Carolina’s Anson Dorrance, by the way, leads the pack with 638 career wins, but for Burleigh the present is more important than chasing history.
“Honestly, I didn’t know it until our sports information person, Mary Howard, told me that,” Burleigh said. “Three hundred wins? I think things like that you appreciate more after you’re done with your career, but when you’re in the middle of your career, to me it’s not a big deal. We need to get (a win) and three points on Friday. I’ll take 300 points, too.”
The Gators (5-4-2, 1-2) visit Ole Miss and Mississippi State this weekend.
GOLF: Last month, Billy Horschel helped the United States win its second consecutive Walker Cup. This month, he’s back with the Gator golf team and playing as well as ever.
Last weekend, Horschel scored 68, 64, 68 over three days to finish third at the Jerry Pate Invitational. It was his sixth top-five finish for the consensus All-America selection.
UF finished fifth, tallying a collective 21-under par, 21 shots behind first-place Alabama, the tournament host.