Saturday September 2, 2000Volleyball Wins SunTrust Invitational
For the second-straight year, the University of Florida volleyball team swept a tournament title away from Wisconsin as the ninth-ranked Gators put away the No. 16 Badgers 15-12, 16-14, 15-11 to capture the SunTrust Invitational crown in front of 3,023 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center Saturday afternoon.
Behind the efforts of what Coach Mary Wise calls a "blue-collar work ethic," UF's defense made up for a struggling offense. "It might not have been pretty. But a 3-0 win against a team that will go far in the NCAA Tournament and make a run for the Big 10 title…They can never take that away from us."
Junior Niki Hartley (San Jose, Calif./St. Francis), an all-tournament team selection, dug a personal-best 24 balls and put down a team-high 10 kills. She was the only player with a double-double. Sophomore Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree) was named the tournament MVP and had nine kills. The middle blocker also led all players with five roofs as the Gators out-blocked UW 11-5.
The Gators (3-2) opened the match by ripping off six unanswered points, but trailed all the way through Game 2 until McCray tied it at 14 with two kills. On the next play, setter Kris Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior) collided into another teammate and went down with a sprained left ankle. The junior, though, returned for the third frame and made all-tournament honors.
Wise expected that of Bova. "Kris is the type of player you'd want with you when the chips are down. She's a fighter." But, she and Bova both admitted initial fear. However, Wise acknowledged they probably weren't as scared as freshman Kelli Notestine (Valkaria, Fla./Melbourne Central Catholic), who replaced Bova. Notestine had only served as a defensive specialist in four matches to that point. But, she got the job done with a high set to the left side for the game-winning kill.
UW (2-1) was the tournament runner-up. Ball State (1-2) swept UNLV (0-3) earlier in the day for third place.
The Gators will play in the Cal (Berkeley) Tournament Sept. 8-9. They face George Washington in the first round at 8 p.m. Friday on their first road trip this season.