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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Kelly Murphy's versatility has her coach dreaming of a rule change or two.

Not because Murphy has been breaking rules for Mary Wise and No. 5 Florida (8-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference), but rather because the sophomore's skill set allows her to do practically anything Wise needs her to on the court.

"In a perfect world, we'd change the rules to where she could pass, set and hit to herself - that she could contact the ball twice in a row - because her skills are so unique and she has that talent," Wise said.

Murphy's ability to perform a number of jobs for the Gators is even reflected by the slash in her listed position of setter/right-side hitter - she can't be confined to just one role.

With the SEC season now underway, Murphy is nearing midseason form in much the same way she did last year, when she was named the National Freshman of the Year.

On Friday, Murphy notched her second triple-double of the season at Ole Miss, putting up 20 kills, 32 assists and 16 digs. She nearly added another triple-double Sunday, finishing with eight kills, 17 assists and nine digs against Arkansas.

After recording her first triple-double of the 2009 season against Stanford on Sept. 4, Murphy is already ahead of the pace she set in 2008. As a freshman, she tallied a Florida-record six, all of which came after the Gators' conference schedule began.

"I don't know what the NCAA record is for [triple-doubles], but I think Kelly's going to make a run because of all of her skills," Wise said. "I think that her best volleyball will always be the middle of the season to the end of the season, when she's gotten enough reps in practice playing with the players she plays next to."

Sophomores Colleen Ward and Kristy Jaeckel are among those benefiting the most from Murphy's versatility. The two outside hitters are first and second on the team in kills, respectively, with Murphy currently in third.

While Murphy's utility has allowed many of her teammates to fill up the stat sheet, junior setter Brynja Rodgers has freed up Murphy to use her talent as a hitter.

The two have had to build chemistry on the fly given Rodgers' late arrival to Gainesville, but the time they have spent on the court together so far is already paying dividends.

"There is no pause button that we can just pause the season, let them play together in practice," Wise said. "We just had to keep going, and we knew it was just a matter of time."

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