VOLLEYBALL: Collymore Leads Gators Past UGA

Angie McGinnis knows her job as Florida's setter is to get the ball distributed in such a way that opposing teams can't simply key on All-American outside hitter Jane Collymore. McGinnis is also aware that when Collymore gets in one of those zones, like she was in Wednesday night, that priority number one is get the ball to her big hitter.

McGinnis accomplished her goal of getting everyone involved in the offense against Georgia in a Southeastern Conference match at the O'Connell Center, but she saw early on that Collymore was elevating a little higher than usual and hitting the ball with even more authority.

"When she's going like that you just kind of go to her," said McGinnis, who contributed 47 assists to go with Collymore's 20 kills and 10 digs in Florida's 30-19, 30-19, 30-17 win over the Bulldogs before a crowd of 1,901 at the O'Connell Center. The fifth-ranked Gators improved to 17-1 overall and 7-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

It wasn't just that Collymore was hitting rockets that the Bulldog defenders couldn't handle, it was how efficiently she was getting the job done. Those 20 kills came with only 30 hits in three games, so it all came as part of the offensive flow. She had only three attack errors so she finished the night with an impressive .567 hitting percentage.

Defensively, she combined with Marcie Hampton and Rachel Engel on the back line to choke off Georgia's offense. Engel was credited with 13 digs while Hampton chipped in with six. Hampton also had an outstanding night hitting with 10 kills in 16 shots (one error) for a .562 percentage.

Collymore also added three service aces as part of an all-around performance that impressed Coach Mary Wise, who's grown accustomed to big time performances by her senior outside hitter from Colorado. Mentioning that Collymore excelled defensively as well as passing and serving, Wise said "It was All-American performance by Jane."

Collymore appreciates that she has taken her game beyond great offense. When she came to Florida she already had a reputation as a power hitter from the outside but now her game has transformed into one that has very few holes in it.

"When you jump a certain height people see you as a hitter and they don't see you as anything else," said Collymore. "I don't want to be known just as a girl who can jump up and hit the ball but can't play defense and can't pass so personally, that's something I've continued to work hard on."

Collymore and Hampton led the way with their combined 30 kills but they weren't the only Gators who were in a zone offensively. The Gators got nine kills out of middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth, eight out of Amber McCray and five out of middle blocker Kari Klinkenborg.

"As we always say it just can't be just Jane," said Wise. "If you look across the scoreboard and you see we're getting points out of different players, whether it is point production from Rhian Davis serving or point production by our middle blockers or Amber killing balls … as long as we're scoring points in other places, that makes Jane even better."

Killingsworth, who leads the SEC in hitting percentage (.401), continued to show she is an improving and dynamic force in the middle. Coming off a 17-kill match against South Carolina Sunday, the 6-3 Killingsworth had two blocks and a service ace to go with her nine kills. She credits maturity and McGinnis for the offensive improvement.

"I'm having fun right now," said Killingsworth. "At the beginning of the season I wasn't having nearly as much fun. I was putting way too much pressure on myself, trying to do too much and trying to hit shots I really couldn't hit. Now I just trust Angie and I know I can make shots because she makes it easy for me by getting me the ball right where I want to hit it."

McGinnis says the source of Florida's high flying offense has been the improvement on the defensive end.

"I think we know we have a very good offensive team but our key in practice has been to just stress defense," she said. "We know we have to dig balls if we're going to play with the top teams. The more we improve on defense, the more efficient we've become on offense."

Wise likes the continuing improvement she's seeing with the defense. The Gators were suspect on the back line last year, but that area has been transformed into a team strength.

"Credit those players who have worked so hard, Marcie Hampton, Rachel Engel and Jane Collymore," said Wise. "They are the nucleus of our back row defensive play. They took a bazillion reps last spring because they knew that was one of our weaknesses, our ball control. They're playing with a lot of confidence now and you see it in the way they're passing. You give Angie McGinnis a perfect pass and she can do a lot with the ball."

The Gators hit the road Friday for a Southeastern Conference match in Lexington against a vastly improved Kentucky team that is 4-2 in conference play and 11-5 overall.

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