VOLLEYBALL: Killingsworth Leads Gators To 3-0

A month ago, South Carolina's game plan to concentrate its defense to neutralize Jane Collymore and Marcie Hampton might have paid handsome dividends for the Gamecocks. It might have worked then. Now, however, the plan simply blew up in their faces when Kisya Killingsworth and Amber McCray put on a tremendous power hitting display for Florida's fifth-ranked Gator volleyball team.

South Carolina (9-7 overall, 2-4 SEC) held Collymore to 10 kills and Hampton to five in the three games, about seven combined kills below their average, so that part of the game plan worked. There was no answer for Killingsworth and McCray. Killingsworth hit .762 with 17 kills in 21 attempts and McCray had 11 kills in 17 attempts to lead the Gators to a 30-25, 30-22, 30-17 win at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center before a crowd of 1,912.

The win improved the Gators to 16-1 overall and 6-0 in the SEC. Florida will be at home Wednesday night to face Georgia at the O'Connell Center.

Coach Mary Wise felt the explosive efforts of Killingsworth and McCray were a good indicator of how far Florida has come since the season began.

"If you look at the big picture it's how much better are we than we were a month ago or three weeks ago when the season started," said Wise, who has her sights set on a fifteenth straight SEC championship. "I think one of the keys is our ability to get kills out of different positions."

Killingsworth, a 6-3 sophomore middle blocker out of Deltona, added four blocks to go with her 17 kills. She set the tone early with a dominating first game with seven kills and she followed that up with six more in game two.

It was a career best performance for Killingsworth, who credited sophomore setter Angie McGinnis for getting her the ball just where she needs it to be effective.

"This comes from the setter-hitter relationship that we've established," said Killingsworth. "Angie and I have put in a lot of hours, first in the spring and then at the beginning of the season. We've put in a lot of hard work together so she knows where I'm most effective hitting the ball.

"The great thing about Angie is that she can find her hitters wherever they are. No matter where you are, Angie can find you and put the ball in the exact place you need it. She adjusts to everyone and that's an awesome talent to have."

While Collymore and Hampton were the focus of the South Carolina defense, the two outside hitters continued to show that their games are not one-dimensional. Collymore had seven digs and Hampton six, part of a well-rounded Florida defensive effort on the back row which helped make the offense quite efficient.

"We know that there will be nights when we struggle a little big offensively or that we have to make adjustments, but one thing we can always do is play great defense," said McCray. "When the back row is doing a great job of making the digs like today, it really opens the offense up for everybody else."

Last season Florida often struggled offensively if Collymore, an All-American from Colorado, was neutralized. Florida often struggled with offense in the middle and from the right side. Getting more diversity out of the offense, particularly in those two areas, was a big part of Wise's overall plan for improving the team this season.

"The big question was can we get kills out of the middles and out of the right side which we were void of a year ago and how much more offensive could our setter be?" said Wise. "If today is any indication, we are definitely on the right track."

Collymore had 10 kills to go with her seven digs and Hampton had five kills. Kari Klinkenborg backed up Killingsworth's offensive production with four kills in the middle. McGinnis had six kills in seven attempts, 40 assists and three blocks. Rachel Engel and Rhian Davis led the team with nine digs apiece and Davis had three service aces.

As a team, the Gators hit .420 with 53 kills in 100 attempts minus 11 hitting errors. The Gators held South Carolina to .135, one match after shutting down Tennessee at .102.

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