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Saturday November 24, 2001Gator Volleyball Defeats Notre Dame In Four Games

ORLANDO, FL

On the second day of the Conference Challenge, the Florida volleyball team defeated Notre Dame 3-1 (30-24, 30-26, 30-32, 30-24) in a battle of Top 25 teams. The Gators were extended to four games for the first time this season and improve their winning streak to 23 matches.

No. 7 Florida (25-1) was led by Nicole McCray's MVP performance. McCray had a season high 21-kills and nine digs to win the tournament's Most Valuable Player award. Benavia Jenkins also turned in a strong performance today. She had 21 kills as well, three digs and two block assists. Jenkins was joined on the All-Tournament team by senior setter Kris Bova, who had 62 assists, four kills, four blocks--one of them solo--and 11 digs. The Gators were out blocked for the first time since Sept. 1, losing the blocking battle 13-7, but have out killed their opponents in 23 straight matches.

All four games were close as the Fighting Irish, ranked 25th in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll, hung tough. The largest lead by either team in the first game was a five-point advantage by the Gators before pulling away for a six-point first game win. UF's five-point leads were keyed by the serving of Jen Mandes. Mandes served up three straight points to extend the lead to 15-11. Freshman Lauren Moscovic had a run of serves early in the game that was key for UF's early lead. Florida took advantage of its first game point when McCray and Bova teamed up for a block.

The second game started with UF taking a 5-2 lead early on. Mandes once again served three straight points in the early going. Notre Dame came back with four straight points of its own to take a 6-5 lead. UF's three-point lead was the largest by either team. With the game point on her serve, Aury Cruz, who had 12 kills and four service aces, served up the game point when Jenkins killed a Fighting Irish dig.

UF staved off five game points at the end of the third game, coming back from a 29-25 deficit to tie the game at 29 and 30, only to fall 32-30. The Gators jumped out to an early lead in the clinching fourth game and never looked back. The Gators had nine match points at the end and won on their fourth try.

UF will now await the announcement of the NCAA Tournament bracket on Monday at 3 p.m. The selection show will be broadcast live by the Sunshine Network. UF has advanced to at least the regional semifinal round each of the last 10 years.

End of Report

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