Friday November 30, 2001On to the Sweet 16 for Gator Volleyball Team
The seventh-ranked Florida volleyball team advanced to the sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight season with a 3-0 (30-23, 31-29, 30-26) win over Florida International this evening at the Stephen C. OíConnell Center. UF will play Pepperdine in the Regional semifinals at a site, date and time to be determined.
The Gators (27-1), who have now won 25 straight matches, were led in kills by Aury Cruz with 11. Benavia Jenkins had 10 kills and Nicole McCray had nine. Cruz and Kris Bova each had nine digs to lead the Gators. McCray led the Gators with seven total blocks. The two teams were even in the kill column (43 apiece) while FIU had a 58-43 dig advantage. The Gators outblocked the Golden Panthers 12-4.
UF had an early 8-3 lead in the first game. Jenkins was key in the early run, killing three attacks in the early going. FIU (24-8) fought back to get within one point at 9-8 and tied the game at 13 with a service ace. Jacque Robinson broke the tie and sparked a 6-0 UF run. Cruz served eight winning points in the first game, five were consecutive in the 4-0 run. Florida International inched to within 22-20 before Florida called a timeout. Out of the time out, UF ended the game on an 8-3 run. Jenkins had five kills in the first game had hit .833.
The second game was back and forth the whole way. FIU got out of the gate early with a 6-2 lead. That lead was extended to 11-7 before UF called a time out. FIUís lead bulged to 12-7 and 14-9 before Cruz killed three straight balls, bringing UF to within 14-12. FIU shot ahead again only to have UF bounce back with five straight points, thanks to a Cruz kill, an illegal rotation on FIU, and two block assists from Jenkins and Cruz. The game was tied for the first time at 22. After a total of five ties, UF had two game points but could not convert. At 29-29, the Gators ran off two straight points for the 2-0 lead at the break.
UF had an early lead in the third game at 3-0. The Panthers came back to tie the game at four. The two teams battled back and forth before UF took control with a 12-4 run put the game out of reach, UF went on to win the game 30-26.
The Gators will advance to the Regional semifinals for the 11th straight year. Sites for the regional play will not be announced until the morning of Monday, Dec. 3. The Gators will face the Pepperdine waves in their Sweet 16 match. UF was defeated by the Waves 3-0 in the final match of last yearís UF Hotel and Conference Center Invitational. That was the only meeting between the two teams.
End of Report