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Aury Cruz's double-double could not help UF defeat No. 6 Arizona.

Saturday September 1, 2001Gator Volleyball Suffers First Defeat of 2001

Gainesville, FL

Aury Cruz's double-double could not help UF defeat No. 6 Arizona.

The ninth ranked Florida volleyball team suffered its first loss of the 2001 season this afternoon in the final day of the SunTrust Invitational at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators fell to sixth-ranked Arizona3-0 (30-27, 30-28, 30-21) in front of 4,381, the eighth largest crowd in Florida volleyball history. UF got a double-double (19 kills and 10 digs) from Aury Cruz, but could not overcome 25 total blocks by the Arizona front line.

After the Gators took a quick 6-4 lead, the Wildcats reeled off six straight of their own to take a 12-6 advantage in the first game before Florida was forced to call a time out. Coming out of the time out, both teams exchanged points with Florida taking a 19-18 lead. With the score tied 20-20, Arizona scored five straight to take command. UF pulled to within two at 27-29 on a service ace by Cruz before Arizona took the game 30-27.

Neither team had a lead larger than five points in the second game (24-19 UF) as the two teams see-sawed back and forth. With the score 24-19, Arizona got two kills from Lisa Rutledge and a block by Rutledge and Jill Talbot to pull within two. Florida lead 28-26 after another Cruz kill only to have the Wildcats score four straight to win the game. Consecutive kills by Arizona’s Shannon Torregrosa keyed the final run.

After the break, Arizona took a commanding 16-10 lead before Florida cut to within four at 19-15. Back-to-back errors by Torregrosa and kill by Jacque Robinson helped Florida get back into the game. Arizona would prove to be too much on this day as the Gators would only manage six more points.

"This match was won by the better, more skilled volleyball team," UF head coach Mary Wise said. "Arizona played a better volleyball match than we did. Our goal, as coaches, becomes to become a better volleyball team and not rely on our athleticism.

"When you block balls as good as they do, you force your opponent to take different shots. This match had a whole lot to do with their blocking."

Cruz hit .351 for the match and added three blocks to the Florida cause. Freshman Michelle Chatman killed five balls on 14 swings to hit .286. She also registered five digs. Benavia Jenkins and Nicole McCray each had six kills in the match.

Cruz and Jenkins were both named to the All-Tournament team along with Jill Talbot and Lisas Rutledge of Arizona and Michelle Collier of South Florida and Jodi Fick of Marshall. Arizona setter, Dana Burkholder, was named the tournament MVP.

Florida plays Northern Illinois on Friday, Sept. 7 in a tournament at the University of Illinois. In the second round of the tournament, the Gators will face either Illinois or Butler.

END OF REPORT

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