Wednesday October 4, 2000Volleyball Sweeps UNC, Wins Sixth Straight
Nicole McCray Blocks UNC's Laura Greene
The ninth-ranked Florida Gator volleyball team won its sixth consecutive match 15-9, 15-7, 15-4 over North Carolina in a non-conference outing with a top-notch defensive effort and good offensive ball distribution Wednesday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
UF (12-3, 4-0 Southeastern Conference), which snapped UNC's five-match win streak, had three players hit better than .300 and out-blocked the Tarheels (14-3, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) 12-6. The Gators are now 9-1 all-time and 4-0 under Coach Mary Wise against UNC.
The Gators' win was uncharacteristic. It was only their second win this season in which they allowed their opponent more kills. UNC posted 45 kills to UF's 43. Wise admitted that it's not easy to win that way. "Maybe it wasn't the flashiest of wins," she said. "But, we had a good, solid performance out of several people. We did it with defense."
All six players which saw time in the front row contributed to the Gators' brick wall, which is ranked fifth nationally in blocks per game. Freshman Benavia Jenkins (Fort Pierce, Fla./John Carroll) led all players with six roofs (one solo). The middle blocker also averaged a match-high .500 hitting efficiency (6-1-10), the fourth straight contest she's hit at that clip or better.
Freshman Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) was in on five blocks and recorded a match-high 14 kills. Cruz also added 10 digs for her third career double-double.
Offensively, UF posted a .233 hitting efficiency. UNC hit .064. The Gators struggled early with .184 and .194 averages in the first two games, respectively. But, they returned to form in Game 3 with a .333 attack average, thanks to an unstoppable sophomore. Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree), the squad's hitting efficiency leader, was held to just three kills until a breakthrough final game. The middle blocker was perfect with seven kills on eight swings.
"Nicole started slow," Wise said. "But, what we're learning is she's no longer our secret weapon. We know each and every match they'll be covering her. Tonight, she had two blockers on her at all times, and that opened it up for our outside hitters. But, she had a rhythm in Game 3."
McCray finished with 10 kills and contributed to her Top 10 spot among the NCAA leaders with four blocks.
UNC's Casey Simpson and Laura Greene spearheaded the Tarheel attack with 13 kills a piece. Greene led with nine digs.
The Gators will face South Carolina, the SEC's only other undefeated team (13-3, 4-0 SEC) Sunday at 2 p.m. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live from the O'Connell Center. Call 1.800.34.GATOR (in Florida only) or 352.375.4683 for tickets.