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Friday, March 01, 2024

You better believe Marcie Hampton remembers last year's loss to South Carolina, but it's a memory she'd rather forget.

BDo we have to talk about that?C the outside hitter asked.

Each loss stings when you?ve won 93 percent of your matches since 2005 - only six losses versus 78 wins - as the UF volleyball team has.

BWe just did a really poor job of coming in with the right focus and the right attitude,C Hampton said. BCredit them, they completely deserved to win that match and we completely did a no-show.C

The Gamecocks wiped away any chance for the Gators to go undefeated in the Southeastern Conference last year with a 3-1 (22-30, 34-36, 30-26, 24-30) victory Sept. 17 in Columbia, S.C.

The Gamecocks come to the O?Connell Center tonight at 7, and last year?s loss is on the Gators? minds.

Like last season, South Carolina comes in on the bottom end of the conference.

The Gamecocks are four matches under .500 in the conference with a 2-6 record and only nine wins on the season.

UF is undefeated in both SEC play and the season (15-0, 8-0 SEC).

The Gamecocks have not been ranked in the top 25 since Dec. 2, 2002.

The Gators are the No. 5 team in the country and haven?t been unranked since Sept. 10, 1991.

Still, the Gators are on upset alert and are preparing for the team that beat them a year ago.

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BAs soon as you stop thinking that a team has a chance to beat you, that?s exactly when you get beat,C UF coach Mary Wise said. BThis team understands we?ll prepare for South Carolina no different than we prepare for LSU.C

Hampton thinks the upset UF experienced last season benefited the Gators in the long run.

BI think that that loss was maybe a turning point for us,C Hampton said. BI think we learned a lot from that match and became a better team from that match.C

Middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth had the best offensive performance of her life, earning career highs in kills (23), attacks (50), service aces (3), points (27.5) and digs (20).

But it still wasn?t enough to put the Gators over the top.

Killingsworth was even responsible for South Carolina?s match-winning point, tipping the ball into the net from the back row.

BI?m going to get my butt handed to me by the coach,C she remembers thinking after the play. BA smart player would not tip the ball into the net. … I let the team down on that one point.C

Sophomore libero Elyse Cusack had a stress fracture in her foot that night and didn?t play, and Hampton was sick before the match, but they aren?t making any excuses.

BI was a little sick, but you know what, not everyone?s going to feel great all the time,C Hampton said. BI think that it was probably more in my head than anything and I just didn?t do anything to help the team out.C

Are the Gators primed for another upset tonight?

BWe?ll see, if the planets align,C Killingsworth said. BHopefully the Gators will be winning.C

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