Sunday November 12, 2000Volleyball Wins 10th Consecutive SEC Title
The ninth-ranked Florida Gator volleyball team secured sole possession of its 10th consecutive Southeastern Conference Championship and a No. 1 Seed in the tournament with a 15-11, 15-7, 15-9 victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 1,582 at South Carolina Sunday afternoon.
UF (22-4, 14-0 SEC) closed out SEC play with its sixth consecutive perfect conference record while extinguishing USC's (21-5, 13-2 SEC) hopes of sharing the overall and Eastern Division titles with UF. The Gators will be hosts of the 2000 SEC Tournament Nov. 17-19.
"This one was well-earned," Coach Mary Wise said. "It came down to a do-or-die situation for both teams. I think this is where our experience and the Arizona match came into play."
The match featured the two best SEC serving teams, and UF won the battle. The Gators posted a season-high 12 aces to the Gamecocks' two. Freshman Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) led with a career-high tying four aces. Five other players contributed in that column. Meanwhile, USC's Cally Plummer, who was 15th nationally in that category, couldn't send one by UF.
"I'm not sure I could've predicted that," Wise said. "We emphasized that this week. We felt we could win with serving, passing and blocking."
The Gators also took care of the passing, but were out-blocked 10-6. UF made the difference offensively as it out-hit the Gamecocks .206-.156.
Freshman Jacque Robinson (Merced, Calif./Golden Valley) and Cruz led UF in kills with 12 and 11, respectively. Cruz posted her eighth double-double on the season with 11 digs.
UF was out-hit, out-blocked and out-dug in Game 1. But, the Gators kept a hard-hitting USC team out of system in Game 1 with their serving. They ran away with the first three unanswered points on aces and finished with six on the game.
The Gators came back from an 0-2 deficit in the second game. Behind Cruz's serve, including another ace, UF got kills from four different hitters and a block to go up 6-2 and start a 10-0 run. USC battled with five points, but was in too deep of a hole to overcome six UF blocks. UF's net defense held USC to a negative .027 hitting efficiency.
In the final frame, UF took a 13-7 lead. USC tacked on three more points, but couldn't rattle UF. The Gators out-hit USC .200-.172.
The Gators will play the No. 8 Seed Georgia in the first round of the SEC Championships Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live from the Stephen C. O'Connell Center at 5:20 p.m. College Sports Southeast will telecast it tape delayed Nov. 23 at 11:30 p.m. The SEC will announce the official bracket later Sunday evening.