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Friday, February 03, 2023

Marcie Hampton did not want her UF career to end like this.

A ruptured Achilles tendon in the final match of the regular season Saturday night knocked her out for the year, just in time for the NCAA Championship, which starts Thursday.

An MRI on Hampton?s ankle Monday night confirmed the trainer?s initial suspicions that the injury was season-ending, UF coach Mary Wise said.

The Gators volleyball team will have to do without its leading attacker, who was not available for comment Tuesday because of a doctor?s appointment.

When Hampton landed awkwardly on her left foot, setter Angie McGinnis thought Hampton was staying on the ground because of anger at the official?s call on the play.

BAfter a few seconds, she tried to stand up, and we all looked at her and she kind of gave back out,C McGinnis said. BObviously, panic went through all of our minds. We were like, 'Oh crap, our No. 1 point-getter has to go out.?C

McGinnis said she has known Hampton since seventh grade, and seeing her career end because of an injury was sobering.

BIt was actually pretty sad for me, just because I knew that it could have been the last time that I?ll play with her,C McGinnis said. BThat definitely crossed my mind that that would be the last time I set her.C

There is still a chance the two could play together, if Hampton heals in time for national overseas competitions during the summer.

But right now, the Gators are focused on figuring out how to make up for Hampton?s 5.15 points per game.

McGinnis said she will pick up some of the extra work, and freshmen Lauren Bledsoe and Janine Williams will be called on to add more to the mix.

BI think I?m going to have to spread it out way more than I have been,C McGinnis said. BI know one of the freshmen is going to have to come in and step up.C

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Wise sounded confident in Bledsoe?s ability to swing in place of Hampton.

BShe had two kills in the fifth game against Long Beach (on Saturday) that were as hard or harder than any ball that we had seen all night,C Wise said. BShe, technically, has one of the best arm swings.C

Still, Hampton?s presence was vital in other aspects of the game. She, along with libero Elyse Cusack, was one of the best Gators at receiving a serve. Wise said the team will be able to score points, but the bigger question mark is which player will be able to make first contact after a serve.

UF?s chances of winning the national championship took a similar hit on Oct. 26, 2003, when senior middle blocker Benavia Jenkins went down with a knee injury. That team battled back to make it all the way to the national championship game.

But they weren?t missing their leading scorer. They still had Aury Cruz.

BIt?s a recurring theme that I would really like to put an end to,C Wise said. BBut it?s part of athletics.C

Senior middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth admitted she is a tad concerned about UF?s chances to perform in the national tournament without Hampton.

BI?m worried a little bit,C she said. BBut I think that we have these few days in practice to work all the different lineups that Mary wants to go through. I think we?ll be fine.C

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