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Tuesday September 26, 2000Volleyball Defeats FSU 3-1

TALLAHASSEE

It may be the longest series in Florida Gator volleyball history, but it’s never anything short of exciting when UF meets instate-rival Florida State.

Tuesday night in Tully Gymnasium was not a letdown in those terms as the 12th-ranked Gators (9-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) won their 11th straight over the Seminoles (11-5, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) 15-8, 15-8, 14-16, 15-5.

Freshmen Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) and Jacque Robinson (Merced, Calif./Golden Valley) spearheaded a season-best team offensive performance. Cruz was one of four UF hitters in double-digit kills with a career-high 20. Robinson put down a personal-best 15 kills and led all hitters with a .480 attack percentage. The team pounded out 71 kills for a .338 hitting efficiency. FSU hit .136.

Coach Mary Wise admitted Robinson had perhaps the best match of her early career, but said the key to winning was defense. "That we were able to hold Norisha Campbell and Jennifer Werrick to below .100 (hitting efficiencies) was the key to the win. And we did that by blocking balls."

The Gator defense formed a brick wall with 15 roofs to FSU’s eight. Sophomore Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree), who had 13 kills, was in on a match-high eight. Robinson and freshman Benavia Jenkins (Fort Pierce, Fla./John Carroll) each contributed six.

Additionally, three Gators had three players with double-digit digs out of its back row. Cruz posted her second career double-double with 11, and Kelli Notestine (Valkaria, Fla./Melbourne Central Catholic) and Jerilyn Hattendorf (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles) each recorded 10. Their play especially impressed Wise. "To have Kelli and Jerilyn in double-digit digs when they serve a limited role in terms of court time is enormous. It says a lot about what their presence does for our offense."

UF ran off with a 12-2 lead in Game 1 before FSU could string together a scoring run. The ‘Noles held off the Gators, scoring on four kills and two UF attack errors. But, UF quickly returned to form and finished with a .400 hitting efficiency for the game. Cruz was perfect for five kills on eight swings (.625). FSU hit negative .037.

In the second frame, FSU kept rallying, but forever trailed UF thanks to a Gator defense, which forced four of nine errors with its blocking.

It took nearly thirty minutes for FSU to win the third game. The Gators battled back and tied it twice, once at 7-all after trailing 7-4 and again at 14 a piece after trailing 13-10. But FSU’s emotion and leading hitter Campbell played through.

"Credit FSU," Wise said. "They were able to get the ball to Campbell, and we made some unforced errors. But, to lose 16-14 with the errors we made says a lot about where we are."

After long, early rallies in the deciding game, UF went on an 8-0 run. The Gators stifled FSU with a match-high .452 hitting efficiency.

The Gators are in action next at Mississippi State, Friday Sept. 29. First serve is at 8 p.m. from the Newell-Grissom Building in Starkville, Miss. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live.

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