Saturday November 18, 2000Volleyball Into SEC Finals, Sweeps Tennessee
UF looks to win its eighth tourney title in nine years.
For the first time since 1994, the No. 10 Florida Gator volleyball team will have a chance to win its eighth Southeastern Conference Tournament title at home in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The top-seeded Gators (24-4) will face No. 7-seed LSU (15-14) Sunday at 1p.m. after both teams swept their opponents in the semifinal matches Saturday afternoon. UF beat No. 4-seed Tennessee 15-10, 15-13, 15-9. It was the second year in a row the Gators ousted UT from the semis. LSU upset No. 6-seed Georgia 15-11, 15-10, 15-11.
Freshman Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) led the Gators with 15 kills for at .361 hitting efficiency and a career-high 21 digs. Setter Kris Bova (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior) dished out 41 assists as two other UF players recorded double-digit kills en route to a team .254 hitting efficiency.
The LadyVols hit just .139 thanks to UF's net defense, which out-blocked UT 12 and a half to 7. UF made several early adjustments to pick up the win. UT reeled off a 6-0 run in game one sparked by three consecutive blocks. Freshman Benavia Jenkins (Fort Pierce, Fla./John Carroll) turned the blocking statistics around for the Gators and finished with a personal-best-tying nine block assists.
"Without us playing in terms of an A-plus game, we did some good things," Coach Mary Wise said. "Kris was very good in her set distribution, Aury Cruz had 21digs. Twenty-one digs in three games is getting it done…nine blocks in three games by Benavia when the blocking was really, really key today."
UF and LSU have not met in the finals since 1992. Wise is 3-1 vs. the Tigers in the tournament. The lone loss was her first season in 1991.
WRUF-AM 850 and FOX Sport Net will broadcast it live. Sunshine Network will air it in Florida.