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Saturday, December 02, 2023

Gators complete conference-clinching weekend with sweep

When Mary Wise took the UF volleyball coaching job in 1991, the Gators were an average team with no Southeastern Conference Championships and an overall record of 155-100 in seven seasons.

Under Wise, UF is more than average, racking up 545 wins and only 55 losses.

Sunday afternoon saw a milestone for the program - UF?s 700th all-time victory - in a dominating 3-0 win against Kentucky (30-28, 30-19, 30-22). On Friday, UF also clinched its 17th consecutive Southeastern Conference Championship with a 3-0 sweep over Tennessee (30-20, 30-18, 30-27).

BI work for a guy who reminds us that these things never get old, and they don?t,C said Wise, reffering to athletic director Jeremy Foley.

The No. 8 Gators (24-1, 17-1 SEC) outplayed Kentucky all over the court, hitting .340 compared to the Wildcats? .147.

Kentucky was honoring its own seniors for Senior Day, but UF?s senior class showed who was superior.

Outside hitter Marcie Hampton ended the match in game three with her 17th kill on the day. She also added a match-high 19 digs to earn the 41st double-double of her career.

Add that on to her 18 kills and 16 digs against Tennessee Friday night, and you?ve got the player of the weekend.

BI told her after the match she hit a shot only (former UF player) Aury Cruz could have hit,C Wise said. BIt wasn?t that she just hit it sharp angle, but she hit it sharp angle with big-time pace on it. Marcie was great.C

She was so good that if the teams only played two games, she still would have had a double-double in both weekend matches.

UF jumped on Kentucky early in the third game, getting out to a 9-3 lead before Kentucky had to call a timeout. It did little to help the Wildcats as the Gators quickly extended the lead to 13-4.

The sweep extended UF?s winning streak to eight matches, but they have also not lost an individual game since Oct. 19 against Auburn - a span of 23 games.

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The Gators were one Callie Rivers strike away from having five players in double-digits for kills, and that?s especially impressive considering they were facing Kentucky?s middle blocker Queen Nzenwa.

BThat?s really good against Queen,C Wise said. BShe?s the sixth-best blocker in the country, and she only had one block on the match.C

UF and Kentucky were tied as late as 24-24 in game one, but Rivers and Hampton got back-to-back kills to put the Gators up by two. Hampton finished the game with a kill.

Wise also complimented the play of senior setter Angie McGinnis, who had 50 assists Sunday and 105 total on the weekend.

BAngie McGinnis was first-team All-American,C Wise said. BWe?ve always said great players make everybody else around them look better.C

On Sunday, UF was ahead right from the start, as the Volunteers gave them little resistance until game three.

UF finished off Tennessee when the Vols had an attack go out of bounds.

The Gators jumped off the bench and ran to the center of the court, where they celebrated winning the SEC Championship.

Wise thought it was especially appropriate for the seniors to celebrate in Knoxville considering they lost a match there in their freshman season.

Radio broadcasts contributed to this report.

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