UF volleyball sweeps pair

Published: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 3:54 p.m.

For the first time in three years, someone other than Angie McGinnis was on the floor setting balls for Florida's seventh-ranked volleyball team.

Alli Cecchini, a sophomore from Brentwood, Calif., replaced McGinnis in the third game of Florida's 30-16, 30-25, 30-19 rout of Georgia Southern Friday afternoon at the Campus USA Invitational and finished with 12 assists.

"I've been practicing as a setter," Cecchini said. "The biggest adjustment is just getting out there and playing in front of a crowd."

Cecchini wasn't the only underclassmen getting time Friday afternoon. Florida's easy win allowed the Gators to rest many of their starters and play plenty of freshmen. Newcomer Callie Rivers led all Gators with 10 kills while freshman Janine Williams and sophomore Kristina Johnson added eight.

"We have so much depth," Johnson said. "Anybody can come in and score for us."

The Gators played without senior Marcie Hampton, who was rested by coach Mary Wise as "an investment." Without their top attacker, Florida had no trouble. Nine different Gators killed a ball against the Eagles. With five freshmen, Florida now has the luxury of depth it didn't have a year ago.

"A year ago we had maybe one or two options when it came to subs," Wise said. "This year we have so many options."

One of those is Cecchini, who spent her freshman year as a defensive specialist. Now, she's cross-training in preparation of taking the torch McGinnis, a senior, will pass down to her.

"Coming in here, I knew I wanted to play behind Angie," Cecchini said. "She's been really encouraging and has helped me a lot."

Wise said Cecchini's performance was typical of someone playing a position for the first time.

"I thought she had some pretty special sets," Wise said. "And some she made a little more difficult."

Florida returned to the court Friday night to defeat North Carolina State 30-15, 30-14, 30-21. Hampton and freshman Lauren Bledsoe each notched nine kills.

Florida's nine service aces were a season best, with redshirt freshman outside hitter Janine Williams hitting a team-best three aces on the night. Sophomre defensive specialist Elyse Cusack had a team-high 16 digs.

The win improved the Gators to 4-0 heading into today's 4 p.m. match against No. 19 Santa Clara.

"Any time you play a match and you're getting kills from everyone but your defensive specialists, that means you're offense is clicking," Wise said. "Credit our hitters and setters, but Elyse Cusack deserves a lot of credit because she has been constantly good for us in the back row."

Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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