OXFORD, Miss. – Senior outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) posted a match-high 13 kills to lead the sixth-ranked University of Florida volleyball team to a 3-0 (30-11, 30-20, 30-23) win over Mississippi on Friday night.
The win boosted the Gators’ record to 10-0 (3-0 Southeastern Conference), which matches the third-best start in school history.
UF’s defense tallied 10.0 total blocks, led by four each from senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) and junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers (Gainesville, Fla.), held the Rebels to a -.025 hitting percentage, marking the first time this season the Gators have held a team below .000. The effort also represented the fifth-consecutive match that the Orange and Blue averaged 3.0 blocks per game as a team.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “The atmosphere here is great, and it’s a tough place to come in and play, let alone win. We were physical at the net, and we didn’t let Mississippi have anything they didn’t earn.”
The Gators, who entered the match with an SEC-leading .300 hitting percentage, hit .308 on the night.
Hampton added nine digs and a pair of blocks, while Killingsworth chipped in with eight kills on .353 hitting. Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Elyse Cusack (Melrose, Fla.) led all players with 15 digs, and senior setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) tallied a match-high 35 assists to go along with five kills. Freshman outside hitter Callie Rivers (Winter Park, Fla.) helped out with four kills, her most since Aug. 31.
The Gators jumped out to a 6-1 lead to open the match behind a trio of kills from Killingsworth and one by Hampton. Mississippi fought back to narrow the lead to 6-5, but a Hampton kill and a Killingsworth ace sparked a 4-0 UF run that prompted UM head coach Joe Getzin to call his first timeout of the night. Bowers recorded her first kill of the night after the break, and Killingsworth added another ace to make the score 13-5 and extend the run to 8-0 before it was broken. The Florida lead reached 18-8 on a double block by Bowers and senior opposite hitter Amber McCray (Longview, Texas), and Bowers teamed with redshirt freshman outside hitter Janine Williams (Gainesville, Fla.) for another block on the next point, pushing the margin to 19-8 and prompting another Rebel timeout. Cusack chipped in with an ace on her first serve of the game to increase Florida’s lead to 22-10, and two more successful attacks from Killingsworth and an ace off the hand of Rivers helped run the lead to 29-11, and a UM error on the next rally capped the game for UF. Florida registered four team blocks in the frame, holding Ole Miss to -.189 hitting. Killingsworth led all players with five kills in the opening frame.
UF fell behind 8-3 early in game two, but kills by McCray and Bowers ignited a Gator charge that saw them take a 10-9 lead on a UM attack error. A kill by Hampton gave UF a 13-12 advantage in the see-saw affair, and spurred on a short run that gave the Orange and Blue a 15-12 lead after a kill by McGinnis. UF hit the 20-point mark with a 20-17 lead courtesy of a McCray kill, and increased its lead to five for the first time in the game, 23-18, on a kill down the left line by Rivers. McGinnis and Killingsworth teamed up for a block assist minutes later to make the score 25-18 in Florida’s favor, forcing Getzin to yet again ask for a timeout. The Gators concluded the game on an 8-2 run, culminating in a McGinnis kill, to win the frame, 30-20, and assume a 2-0 lead in the match. Hampton had five kills in the game, to increase her match total to nine at the break, as UF hit .349 as a team.
Hampton notched her 10th kill of the night early in the third game, helping UF narrow the gap to 6-4, Bowers and McCray turned in back-to-back kills to re-extend the margin to four points. Mississippi, however, battled back to within one before Bowers scored a kill off hands and posted a solo block to propel the Gators to a 12-7 lead and force a Rebel timeout. Florida came firing out of the stoppage, as Rivers and McCray both recorded kills to extend the cushion to 14-8. Rivers ripped her second ace of the match to make the score 20-12, and Killingsworth caused UM to call another timeout with a kill that made the tally 22-12 in UF’s favor. The Rebels brought the margin down to six, 29-23, late in the game, but a Mississippi ace fell long to seal the match for the Gators, 3-0.
The Gators will return to action again on Sunday when they square off with No. 22 LSU at 2 p. m. EST in Baton Rouge. The match will be televised by Cox Sports Television (channel 67 in Gainesville), and Rock 104 will carry the radio broadcast locally. Audio coverage of the match can also be heard at www. GatorZone. com.