Gators rebound from tough volleyball loss

When Jane Colleymore saw the tape of Wednesday night's four-game loss to the University of Texas, all she could do is shake her head and wonder why the wheels came off. <p> "We underestimated them (Texas)," said Colleymore, Florida's outstanding junior hitter, whose 16 kills led the Gators to a 3-0 (30-23, 30-16, 30-26) win over Auburn at the O'Connell Center Friday evening in a Southeastern Conference match.

"We really shouldn't have done that. [Watching the tape] it was kind of disgusting and left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. We came out on a mission today."

The Gators (11-2, 3-0 in the SEC) completely dismantled Auburn, hitting with such efficiency that there were only four errors in the first two games, allowing Coach Mary Wise to substitute freely. All the Gators got to see action including an opportunity for sophomore Rhian Davis to start the third game at the libero position. Florida once again started three freshmen (Angie McGinnis, Kisha Killingsworth and Marcie Hampton) and a fourth, Kari Klinkenborg also got action in the second game.

"Everyone got to play tonight, and that's a good thing," said Wise. "We're a work in progress. We're really young and we're not a team that's going to beat teams 30-15 three straight games like we've done the past two or three years."

In addition to Colleymore, Hampton (14 kills) and Michelle Chatman (10 kills) overpowered the Auburn front line. Florida blew Auburn out in the first two games, then toyed with the Tigers before putting them away in game three. While every facet of their game was way off Wednesday, blocking and passing were much improved against Auburn, leading to an outstanding .420 hitting percentage for the match.

"At practice Thursday we worked on communicating better and really getting our feet moving to the ball," said the 6-1 Hampton, an outside hitter from Gainesville's PK Yonge. "We didn't do that very well against Texas. I thought we were definitely improved tonight."

Wise had threatened to burn the tape of Wednesday's match with Texas, which saw UF lose the last three games in rather decisive fashion, but instead of burning it, she made the team relive the horror show.

"Oh we definitely watched the tape for awhile," said Wise with a laugh, noting that Thursday's practice was a good learning experience. "We practiced very well and we got a whole lot better. We've got a way to go, though."

At practice Thursday, the Gators worked hard on passing the ball, "tweaking some of the patterns" according to Wise.

"We had to pass better," said said. "Wednesday night was it that we were passing the ball so poorly or was it that Texas was serving so well? I think it was a combination of both."

The Auburn match was a good tuneup to set the stage for Sunday's SEC match with Alabama (1 p.m., O'Connell Center).

"We were a lot better in some areas but there are some areas that have to get better for Sunday," said Wise. "Alabama has one of the premier outside hitters in the league in Erin Heffner who has played every minute of every game for four years. The key to beat Alabama, you have to block balls. They are a terrific serving team with a great offense. In many ways they will remind you of Texas without quite the ball control that Texas has."

Florida got another solid game from McGinnis, the 6-1 freshman setter from Fraser, Michigan, who was rated the number two recruit in the nation. McGinnis finished the match with 39 assists, seven digs and three kills.

"In some ways she's so far ahead of where a freshman should be, but in others, she's a typical freshman," said Wise. "The analogy with Angie is Chris Leak. A year ago you'd watch Chris make an unbelievable play, then you'd see him make some young mistakes that only freshmen make. That's the way it is Angie. She's only going to get better."

Defensively, the Gators got solid blocking from senior All-America Sherry Williams, Killingsworth and Chatman. Colleymore and Hampton both had outstanding games on the backline with 11 and seven digs respectively.

"We have to work much harder now [after the Texas match]" said Colleymore, "but there is no doubt in my mind we can get where we want to be. We know our flaws and we will be working very hard to correct them."

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