Volleyball clinches SEC title

KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) posted her 13th double-double of the season and senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) had a record-setting night to lead the eighth-ranked University of Florida to its 17th-straight Southeastern Conference title on Friday night with a 3-0 (30-20, 30-18, 30-27) win over Tennessee.

By clinching the league crown on Friday night, UF (23-1, 16-1 SEC) tied the Arkansas men’s cross country team for the most consecutive SEC titles in any sport – men’s or women’s. The championship also marked Florida’s second of the fall, joining the SEC regular-season crown that the soccer team captured a week ago.

McGinnis dished out 55 assists on the night, breaking her own school record for assists in a three-game match en route to setting the Gators to a .378 hitting team hitting percentage. Hampton led all players with

18 kills on the night, and freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) tied her career high with 13 on a .385 efficiency rating. Senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) also chipped in with 11 on .526 hitting to give Florida three players in double figures on the night.

“I’ve been saying all year that this isn’t your mother’s SEC, and being able to clinch the title feels wonderful,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “Every conference match this year has been a battle. We came out ready to play tonight, and we executed well on offense. With a setter like Angie McGinnis on your side, it can make you fun to watch at times, and we really saw her near the top of her game tonight.”

Hampton turned in a team-high 16 digs on the night to qualify for her

13th double-double of the season and the 40th of her career. McGinnis also recorded a double-double in the victory, adding 11 digs to her record-setting 55 assists. Junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers

(Gainesville, Fla.) and senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth

(Deltona, Fla.) shared match-high honors with three blocks apiece, and the effort allowed Bowers to become just the 17th player in school history with at least 300 blocks for her career as she finished the night right at that mark.

Freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) delivered two kills in the early stages of game one, helping the Gators keep pace during a hotly contested first 10 points. Senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) responded with back-to-back kills to ignite a 6-0 run that gave UF a 12-6 lead, culminating when a kill by senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) ripped her second kill of the night off of the UT block. A block assist by senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) and junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers

(Gainesville, Fla.) extended the lead to 16-10, and Hampton put down her third kill of the night to make the score 19-13 in Florida’s favor before the Lady Vols asked for their second timeout of the frame. A pair of kills by senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas) kept the Gators up a half dozen at 23-17, and they took a 10-point lead of the night at 27-17 just minutes later on a UT ball-handling error. Sophomore middle blocker Kristina Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) forced game point at 29-20, and Hampton put the opener away on the next rally with a kill off of the Tennessee block. Hampton and McCray led all players with six kills apiece in the frame, while the former also posted nine blocks to lead a defensive effort that held the Lady Vols to .130 hitting in game one. McGinnis assisted on 21 of the Gators’ 30 points in the opening stanza.

Hampton opened the game two scoring by slamming a kill off of the Lady Vols’ block, and Florida found itself with a 4-1 lead after Killingsworth’s second block solo of the night. McCray helpelead by teaming with Killingsworth on a block assist before putting down consecutive kills to force Tennessee into a timeout with UF on top by a count of 9-2. Two kills by Rivers pushed the score to 15-7, and Hampton added a pair of her own to put UF up, 19-10, and force Tennessee to burn a timeout. A pair of kills by freshman opposite hitter Lauren Bledsoe

(Long Beach, Calif.) and a Killingsworth ace ran the advantage to 23-11, and Johnson again forced game point, at 29-16, before Bledsoe topped off the 30-18 win with her third kill of the frame. The Gators led throughout and hit .541 in the game, getting 17 assists from McGinnis and six kills from Hampton, who added a dig to reach a double-double after just two frames.

Florida took its first lead of game three on a Rivers kill that made the score 5-4, and opened up a two-point lead at 8-6 on a kill by McGinnis. An ace by Rivers increased the edge to 10-7, but the Lady Vols battled back to tie the score at 12-12. UF responded by taking three of the next four points to claim a 15-13 lead, and a block solo by McCray sent the Gators to the 20-point mark with a three-point advantage. A pair of kills by Killingsworth and a Rivers block pushed the lead to 23-19, and Tennessee was forced to burn a timeout after a Lady Vols’ attack error put Florida up by five at 25-20. The Orange and Blue took two of the first three points after the stoppage on kills by Bowers and Rivers, and a McGinnis dump brought the Gators to match point at 29-25 before a UT attack error capped the 3-0 sweep for Florida. The Gators hit .348 in the frame, led yet again by Hampton, who posted her third six-kill game of the night.

UF will play its final SEC road match of the season on Sunday, when it meets Kentucky at 1 p.m. ET in Lexington. Radio coverage of the action can be found on WRUF-AM 850, as well as http://www.GatorZone.com.