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Friday November 9, 2001Gator Volleyball Clinches 11th Straight SEC Title

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

The seventh ranked Florida volleyball team played the Tennessee Lady Vols in an attempt to clinch its 11th consecutive SEC regular season championship. The Gators did indeed clinch that title with a 3-0 sweep (30-26, 30-20, 30-28) of the Lady Vols. The win is the 17th straight for the team and the sweep is the 14th straight for the Gators, setting a new school record. The Gators will now enter the SEC Tournament as the top seed.

Aury Cruz continued to dominate the offense with 20 kills, her 23rd straight double-digit kill match. Benavia Jenkins had eight kills in the second game alone and ended the match with 11 kills. Niki Hartley registered a season high 15 digs in the win. Jenkins led the Gator blockade with one solo block and ?? block assists. Florida won the blocking battle and has now outblocked its opponent in 17 straight matches.

The first game was a tight contest which was tied three separate occasions. Florida (19-1, 13-0 SEC) took a 12-10 advantage after a block and a kill by Jenkins. A Tennessee error and a Gator block pushed the lead to 14-10. Kris Bova made the score 17-12 with a kill on the second contact, after which Tennessee called a time out. Florida had a seven-point lead after Nicole McCray and Hartley killed attacks down the middle of the court. With the score 32-16, Tennessee called its final timeout of the first game. Two Gator attack errors and a blocking error brought the Lady Vols to within two points at 24-22. Hartley ended the UT run with a kill down the middle. Jenkins assisted on two straight blocks with Cruz and Jacque Robinson to push the Gator lead back to five points. The Gators earned game point after Robinson killed a ball to make it 29-24. Florida cashed in on its third game point, taking the game 30-26.

Jenkins opened the second game with back to back kills. Florida opened up a 4-0 lead before Tennessee (15-9, 7-6 SEC) dented the scoreboard. Jenkins killed another to make it 5-1. After Florida extended its lead to 7-1, Tennessee raced back and tied the game at nine. Jenkins broke the fourth tie of the game with a kill on a Tennessee overpass, making the score 16-15. Robinson registered a kill to make the score 24-19 before the Lady Vols called a time out. Kris Bova served up consecutive points as the Gators took a 26-19 lead. Cruz killed the last of three consecutive points to give Florida a 30-20 Game 2 win.

The third game's fourth tie was broken by Cruz' 13th kill of the match. The Gators had a 10-9 lead only to have Tennessee block its way back into a tie. Florida regained the lead for the first time since 10-9 with a kill for McCray. Hartley killed an attack to give UF a two-point bulge, forcing Tennessee to call a time out. Neither team had a lead larger than two points in the third game. The Lady Vols tied the third game for a fifth time after UF hit a ball out of bounds. With the score 22-22, Gator head coach Mary Wise called a time out. Tennessee forced the sixth tie of the match when an illegal substitution call gave UF a point. The tie was broken with a Cruz kill. Jenkins had her hand in two consecutive blocks coming out of the UT time out. Florida earned its first match point on a Cruz solo block. Cruz killed an attack that clinched the game, the match and the SEC title for the Gators.

Florida will next travel to Lexington, Ky., to close the regular season with a 2 p.m. match against the Wildcats. The match will be broadcast on WRUF-AM 850 and on Gatorzone.com.

End of Report

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