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Monday, May 27, 2024

If you open this year’s Florida volleyball media guide and turn to pages 27 and 28, you will come upon accolade after accolade after accolade and then some.

A 2009 AVCA Second-Team All-American, All-Southeastern Conference First Team, 15 career triple-doubles, National Freshman of the Year, the nation’s top high school recruit and too many other honors to list fill those pages.

Expect a third page in next year’s edition.

Kelly Murphy is off to another great season and will have a chance to build on recent success tonight at 7, when No. 3 Florida (8-1, 2-0) travels to No. 13 Florida State (9-1, 1-0). Murphy had her third triple-double of the season, and 18th of her career, Sunday against Tennessee, recording 19 kills, 25 assists and 14 digs.

Murphy’s performance earned her a second SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors of the year. She only committed three errors in 39 swings Sunday, good for a hitting average north of .400.

“A .400 hitting efficiency is like that of a baseball player,” coach Mary Wise said. “Defenses are like pitchers trying to pitch around her. They are doing everything they can to stop Kelly.”

There has never been any question about Murphy’s offense. However, teams now have to watch out for her on defense as well.

Through the first nine matches of the season, Murphy has 25 total blocks and is on pace to improve from last year’s total of 63.

“Give Kelly credit in terms of how hard she’s working in improving other aspects of her game,” Wise said. “The triple-double doesn’t come without her defense. She is just now scratching the surface of what a great blocker she really is going to be before she finishes here.”

By continuing to improve her blocking, Murphy is as close to a complete player as there is in college volleyball. She says having the whole package makes her constant transition from setter to hitter easier, making the team more successful.

“That’s basically what I’m thinking about when I’m rotating to the front and the back row,” Murphy said. “I have to switch roles and mindsets a bit.”

Despite all the awards, Murphy knows she has areas to improve every day.

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“There’s always a new match every week, and we want to win every match,” Murphy said. “That’s motivation enough.”

Gators go for 19 in a row against Seminoles: Murphy and the Gators will use that motivation tonight when they take on Florida State — the fifth straight match against a ranked opponent for Florida.

The Gators have won 18 consecutive matches against the Seminoles spanning back to 1994.

Out of those matches, last year’s was the only one in which the Seminoles took more than one set, but the Gators won the close battle 3-2 (25-19, 23-25, 25-20, 22-25, 17-15) in the O’Connell Center.

“I think it’ll be a terrific volleyball match; high emotion,” Wise said. “Some of those matches haven’t been exactly the most pure volleyball, but highly contested.”

The Gators will be tested by their rival’s home crowd and Florida State’s international flavor. Of the 15 players on the Seminoles’ roster, eight hail from outside the United States.

“We really know little about their international players,” Wise said. “These will be all new players to our team and it’ll be a huge challenge for them.”

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