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Thursday, March 30, 2023

More times than not, there is someone else to thank for one's success.

In sophomore setter Kelly Murphy's case there are 14 women to thank - her teammates.

It is easy to notice all of the things she does to help No. 9 Florida (18-3, 12-2 Southeastern Conference) win, but the impact the other members of the team have on her performance often goes overlooked.

Murphy is asked to do a lot for the Gators, as she leads the NCAA in triple-doubles with seven and also plays two positions, opposite hitter and setter.

But UF coach Mary Wise made it clear that most of her accomplishments are due to the play of her teammates.

Her setting and hitting stats are helped by the excellent libero play of senior Elyse Cusack because of the importance of first contact, while the middle blockers are to thank for Murphy's high dig numbers, Wise said.

During the recent six-match win streak, Murphy has excelled. In that short stretch, she has tallied three triple-doubles while posting a .463 hitting efficiency.

"A lot of it has to do with our passing," Murphy said. "We've been passing really well lately and that just makes everything else easier. I have to credit my teammates a lot."

However, it goes both ways. Her versatility has helped take some of the load off of her teammates. In just her sophomore year, Murphy has broken all kinds of records while helping the Gators rebound from losing two starters last season.

Not even Cusack, who has played with six All-Americans, can remember playing with such an all-around talent.

"Anytime you have a player like Kelly who can set and hit, it is kind of unique," Cusack said. "I've never played with a player as dominant as she is."

Playing two drastically different positions, it is essential that Murphy has different mindsets while playing at different spots on the floor.

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"You know when you rotate to the front row it's different, you have to score points and kill balls," Murphy said. "In the back row, it's more about digging balls and setting up the other teammates."

The numbers that really stick out to Wise are the sophomore's kill and dig statistics because the amount of attempts she has at each is restricted due to her constant rotation from the front row to the back row.

If that has affected her game, it hasn't shown. She is still knocking down three kills per set while also having the second most digs on the team this season.

But if something is going to limit her game, it will be the play of her teammates, Wise said. So far, though, they have only helped take her to new heights.

"You can make the argument that Kelly is most talented player in this league based on all that she does for our team," Wise said. "But she is only as good as her teammates allow her to be."

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