UF notebook


Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.

Loss to Tennessee forces Wise's Gators to grow up

It may become the watershed moment for Florida's volleyball season. It was a day when a somewhat young team grew up a little.
That's how coach Mary Wise views Florida's marathon loss to Tennessee on Sunday in Knoxville. Wise said the 22-30, 30-32, 30-19, 39-37, 12-15 defeat gave players like junior Rhian Davis and sophomores Kisya Killingsworth and Amber McCray valuable experience.
"For some of our young players this was their first very big match on the road against a very good team," Wise said Monday. "It was a learning experience and it's a match we'll get a whole lot better from."
So if the Gators end up inside San Antonio's Alamodome for the NCAA Final Four on Dec. 15, they'll look back to Sunday's loss as a day that changed their season. The match included 266 points and lasted for 2 hours and 33 minutes.
It was the kind of experience that will toughen up a team which hadn't been seriously challenged in over a month. The Gators had won 14 straight, 13 of which were 3-0 sweeps prior to Sunday.
"We're not going to get it (the match) back but we're going to get the experience from it," Wise said. "You learn more from a loss than you do from a win."
The loss didn't really cost the Gators much of anything. Florida (21-2, 11-1 SEC), which fell two spots to No. 6 in Monday's coaches' poll, still controls its own destiny in the SEC. The Gators can clinch their 15th straight conference title with wins this weekend at Alabama and Auburn.
And since the NCAA has gone to pre-determined host sites for NCAA Regionals, the Gators aren't glued to the latest RPI listings.
"All our goals are still in front of us," Wise said.

Collymore sets another mark

Senior outside hitter Jane Collymore became the sixth Florida volleyball player to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her career and is just the fourth to do so under Wise's tenure. Collymore entered the elite group by recording five digs Friday at South Carolina to go over 1,000.
Collymore joins Lyra Vance (1984-87), Roni Armeda (1986-89), Jenny Manz (1996-99), Jenni Keene (1994, 96-98) and Aury Cruz (2000-03) in that group.
Collymore currently is ranked fourth all-time in kills with 1,427 and is sixth all-time in digs with 1,013.
"What makes that so special is that usually happens with four-year starters," Wise said. "Jane did not start as a freshman. To get the thousand-thousand in (two and a half) years says what she's meant to Gator volleyball."

Soccer's Abdullah on the mend

Soccer coach Becky Burleigh said Monday she expects fleet-footed freshman forward Ameera Abdullah to return from her leg injury and play in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday in Orange Beach, Ala.
Abdullah, who has two goals and two assists in 11 games this season, hasn't played since Florida's 2-0 win at Georgia on Oct. 2. She has been recovering from a left shin stress fracture.
"I'm anticipating Ameera coming back," Burleigh said. "She warmed up Friday and had no ill effects."
Abdullah's return comes at the right time for the Gators. Florida will be without senior forward Cherry Pickman when they face Auburn at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Pickman will be forced to miss the game after receiving a red card Friday against South Carolina.
"Having Ameera back is a big piece we've been missing," Burleigh said. "She has great touch and great footwork. We've been missing her a lot and we'll be excited to have her back."
In other injury news, the knee injury suffered by defender Ashley Harris on Oct. 21 against LSU has been diagnosed as a partially torn right medial collateral ligament, Burleigh said. Harris is day-to-day.
"She can run straight ahead but unfortunately we don't run straight ahead a lot in soccer," Burleigh said.

Seen and heard on campus

When the volleyball team was in Columbia, S.C. on Friday to face South Carolina, Wise had the chance to visit an old friend - former UF football coach Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks football coach gave Wise a tour of his office and facilities early Friday morning. "Got to reminisce about old times," Wise said. ... The soccer team held their annual Halloween Practice on Monday. Among the most notable costumes worn to practice by players was the five-player "Hungry Hungry Hippo" set. It included four hippos and senior goalkeeper Jen Gardner dressed as the game board. Burleigh arrived wearing a Batman costume. Considering the team's three-match win streak, they may not want to hide their identity for long.

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