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Friday, June 21, 2024

You could see the frustration on the Gators' faces after game three.

They had just blown a match point, and they were determined not to let pesky Notre Dame stick around after that.

Up 16-14, the Gators got a key block from senior setter Angie McGinnis and junior middle blocker Kelsey Bowers. The momentum belonged to UF after that.

"We are still not a very good blocking team," UF coach Mary Wise said. "We were going way too long of stretches without scoring a block. But the block that Angie and Kelsey got really was a difference maker in game four."

UF came back to win game four and took the match by a score of 3-1 (30-25, 30-24, 30-32, 30-23) in South Bend, Ind. It was the Gators' second victory of the weekend and the season, as they defeated Illinois State on the road 3-0 (30-19, 30-24, 30-27) Friday night in their season opener.

Down two games to none, the Irish showed they had some fight in them after winning game three of Sunday's match, but redshirt freshman outside hitter Janine Williams killed a ball off a Notre Dame blocker to end the match at four games.

McGinnis had 26 assists through two games and 59 at the end of the night.

"Give Angie credit, because she is making some good choices," Wise said. "We knew that Notre Dame historically had liked to take chances blocking, and if we can stay in system, we'll get our hitters some good looks one-on-one."

Friday night?s match started twenty minutes late, but that did not stop the Gators from getting off to a fast start.

Sophomore libero Elyse Cusack began the match with six straight points, including three service aces. She had four on the night.

The Gators never dropped below a 5-point lead again in the first game.

In the second and third games of the match, the team looked sloppy, hitting serves into the net, mistiming kills and setting inaccurately.

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"Game one we didn't make many unforced errors at all," Wise said. "And then we got a little sloppy with some service errors, and I think you can expect that early on."

Game three was tied 16 times, including at 27-27, with UF never holding a lead larger than four points.

The tight game then ended rather anticlimactically when Illinois State hit the ball wide on the final three points after long volleys each time, disappointing the more than 3,000 home fans wearing red.

Outside hitter Marcie Hampton had a double-double in both matches, leading the team with 15 kills and getting 11 digs Friday and hitting a team-high 20 kills with 16 digs Sunday.

"The great thing about our team is we really can get points from a lot of different places at a lot of different times," associate coach Nick Cheronis said. "Sometimes our middles are going to carry us, sometimes our outsides are going to carry us, sometimes Amber (McCray) is going to carry us, sometimes Angie is going to carry us with her jumping ability."

Senior Kisya Killingsworth also appeared very comfortable in her natural position as a middle blocker. She tallied four block assists and seven kills against Illinois State.

Television and radio broadcasts contributed to this report.

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