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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Gale Lemerand Athletic Center practice gym featured some light-hearted pickup action before practice Tuesday.

Elyse Cusack and Marcie Hampton took on Kisya Killingsworth and Christina Diaz, but a few stipulations made the impromptu play a tad more interesting.

The players switched their normal positions - Cusack and Diaz did the spiking while 6-footers Hampton and Killingsworth set - and only use of the left hand was allowed.

It only makes sense that Killingsworth, a self-proclaimed jokester, would be in on the action.

"I am the leader of goofiness," Killingsworth said. "I can try and be the leader on the court, but I'm more the person that goes up to Angie (McGinnis) and says random things on the court and Angie looks at me like, 'What are you talking about?'"

The senior knows she has to keep the laughter inside when the team heads out on the road later this week.

"It's kinda funny to hear some of the things they say," Killingsworth said. BBut it?s one of those things - you have to block it out. If you don't, you will be for sure riding the bench the rest of that match.C

Opposing teams haven't been laughing recently.

The senior tied her career high with seven block assists Friday night against Georgia and she leads the team with 34 total blocks on the year.

Her blocking effort throughout the weekend earned her the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors on Monday.

What makes her success so special is the fact that Killingsworth hasn?t played two consecutive seasons at the same position.

She saw action at right-side hitter her freshman year, moved to middle blocker her sophomore year and then over to left-side hitter her junior year.

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UF coach Mary Wise feels the move back to middle suits Killingsworth best.

BThere?s a comfort zone for Kisya,C Wise said. BIt?s what she does most easily.C

The senior looks to have it down by the end of the season.

BThis whole season, I will still be learning,C Killingsworth said. BHopefully by the time we get down to the end of November, I won?t be learning anymore. I?ll have it down like a pro.C

Despite her BblockerC title, Killingsworth has provided plenty of offense lately.

The senior has recorded double-digit kills in the last four matches, including a match-high 12 kills Sunday against Auburn, and her .420 hitting percentage ranks second in the SEC.

Killingworth?s ability to attack causes the other team to change its blocking schemes to account for her.

That?s when attack lanes start opening up for UF?s outside hitters.

BIt?s really what our offense is based around,C Wise said. BIf we can get kills out of the middle, it does open things up for … right-side players like Amber McCray or the left side like Marcie Hampton.C

That?s the part Killingsworth enjoys best.

"I can go up and hold the middle and let the outside get a clearer shot,C Killingsworth said. BIt?s just like, 'haha, we just tricked you,? kind of thing. It?s fun in my perspective, maybe not fun for the other middle blocker."

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