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Saturday November 17, 2001Gator Volleyball Advances to SEC Tournament Finals

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

The Florida volleyball team took on Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinals this afternoon. The Gators were looking to advance to the tournament championship match for the 11th straight season. UF won today's semifinal match 3-0 (30-22, 30-23, 30-16) and advance to play for their ninth SEC Tournament championship. It will play the winner of the second semi-final match between South Carolina and Arkansas.

Aury Cruz killed 16 attacks to lead the Gators. Nicole McCray kicked in nine kills for Florida (22-1), who extends its winning streak to 20 matches, the last 18 coming as sweeps. Kris Bova assisted on 38 Gator kills and had two blocks, including her second solo block of the season. UF has now outblocked 20 straight opponents this season. Florida had a 46-36 dig advantage in the game, Jen Mandes had a career-high 10 digs.

Florida started slow for the second consecutive match. The first game was tied four times before UF took control with a 16-13 lead. That three-point Gator lead was the largest advantage either team would have until UF took a 23-19 lead, which forced Alabama to call a time out. Coming out of the time out, Alabama recorded two straight hitting errors before the Gators recorded two kills. Florida ended the first game on a 7-3 run and won the game 30-22. Florida hit .289 in the first game to Alabama's .000. Aury Cruz had five kills in the first game. Jacque Robinson contributed four kills.

The second game started much the same way the first game did. The tow teams were tied five times before Alabama took leads of 8-7, 9-8, 10-9 and 11-10. Nicole McCray broke the string with a solo block that gave UF a 12-11 lead. Niki Hartley recorded a kill to give UF a 13-11 lead. The Crimson Tide tied the game at 14-14 with a run of points after a time out. Five straight points by the Gators gave UF a 22-17 controlling 22-17 lead and forced Bama to call a timeout. Florida would only give up six more points enroute to the second game win that would give UF a 2-0 advantage in the match.

The third game began in stark contrast to the first two games. Florida jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Alabama called its first time out of the game. UF had a lead as large as nine points at 12-3. With no time outs remaining, Alabama could only watch as the Gators rolled to the third game win by a score of 30-16

Florida advances to tomorrow's 1 p.m. championship match to play the winner of this afternoon's South Carolina vs. Arkansas semifinal match. The match will be broadcast on the WRUF-AM and Gatorzone.com. The championship will also be telecast by SEC TV. The telecast will be shown on the Sunshine Network on a tape-delayed basis at 3:30 p.m. The match can be watched live on Cox Cable Channel 37 in Gainesville.

End of Report

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