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Saturday September 8, 2001UF Volleyball Wins Illini Classic With Sweep

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.

The 11th ranked Florida volleyball team was in Champaign, Ill., tonight for the championship match of the State Farm Illini Classic. Florida (3-0) defeated the host Fighting Illini 3-0 in front of 1,625 at Huff Hall. With the win, Florida hands Illinois (6-1) its first loss in the Illini Classic since 1994. The Gators out hit Illinois in al three games to register the 30-25, 30-28, 30-14 win.

Aury Cruz turned in her second double-double of the season and 15th of her career (20 kills, 13 digs) to earn tournament MVP honors. Benavia Jenkins recorded three blocks and eight kills and Kris Bova paced Florida with 36 assists. Together, they both earned All-tournament honors. Nicole McCray turned in two service aces and three blocks while Jacque Robinson had 10 kills on 20 swings.

Florida jumped out to a 3-0 lead to begin Game 1 thanks to a service ace by Jen Mandes and kills by Bova and Cruz. With the lead 10-6 Florida, Illinois called its first time out. Coming out of the break, the Illini moved to within 10-8. The teams exchanged points until Florida took a three-point lead on a Jacque Robinson kill. Illinois would tie the game at 14-14 but would not take its first lead. Two kills by Robinson coupled with a solo block and a kill by Jenkins gave the Gators a 22-17 advantage when Illinois called its final time out. The Illini fought back to make the score 23-24 before Gator head coach Mary Wise was forced to call her first time out. With the score tied at 24, a ball handling error by the Illini gave the Gators a lead it would not relinquish. Two kills in the last five points by Cruz hushed the rowdy Huff Hall crowd as the Gators took the first game 30-25. In the first game, Florida out hit Illinois .256 to .028.

Game 2 was a true testament to rally scoring. Neither team had a lead of more than one point in the second game until Illinois took a 16-14 advantage. Florida rallied to regain the lead at 18-17 on service by Lauren Moscovic. Both teams exchanged points and tied the game at 22. A kill by Cruz gave the lead back to Florida before Illinois would come back to tie. Florida had its only two-point lead of the second game at 25-23. After an attack error and a service error, the score was tied again at 25. Florida had game point at 29-28 and took advantage of it with a Bova and Jenkins block.

As she started Game 1, Mandes began Game 3 with a service ace and helped Florida jumped out to a 5-1 lead to quiet a rowdy crowd. The Gators were led in the run by Robinson with two kills. Moscovic added another service ace to aid the UF cause. At 10-3 in the third game, Illinois burned its final time out. Florida pushed its lead to as large as 25-9 as Illinois would not be a factor in the third game.

"Aury is a special player and for her to dominate the left side like she did was a key to the match," Wise said of the tournament's MVP. "We really won this match with our team defense. In Game 2, credit Illinois because they passed so well. Early on in Game 3, it was a game where we served well and put down the kills we needed."

Florida hosts Florida State at the O'Connell Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Sunshine Network will broadcast the match, Larry Vettel and Steve Babik will have the call. The match can also be heard on WRUF-AM 850 and on Gatorzone.com. WRUF Sports Director Steve Russell will call the play-by-play with former Gator Missy Whittemore will provide color analysis.

End of Report

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