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Friday December 7, 2001Gator Volleyball Sweeps Past Waves to Elite Eight

LINICOLN, Neb.

In their 11th straight Sweet 16 appearance, the seventh-ranked Florida Gators took on the eighth-ranked Pepperdine Waves at the Nebraska Coliseum in Lincoln, Neb. The Gators (28-1) advance to the regional final for the ninth time in history with a 3-0 (30-28, 30-25, 30-16) win over the Waves. The Gators dominated every aspect of the match, out-killing, out-hitting, out-digging and out-blocking Pepperdine (23-4).

Nicole McCray was two kills shy of the first triple-double in Florida history. Her line of eight kills, 12 digs and 10 total blocks led the Gators. She led the team with a .727 attack percentage. Aury Cruz had 22 kills on the match with a three-game career high 54 attacks. Kris Bova had 40 assists. UF had 80 digs in the match with five players in double-digits.

The Gators fell behind early in the first game with Pepperdine taking a 6-2 lead. Aury Cruz led the charge on the comeback for the Gators, registering three kills to make the score 8-6 in favor of the Waves. UF inched to within 10-9, but quickly fell behind once again 14-10. Pepperdine's lead was opened up to 18-10 in the first game before the Gators called a time out. Coming out of the timeout, UF lost five of the next 10 points and were behind 23-15 when it called a timeout. The Gators outscored Pepperdine 5-2 after calling their second time out and pulled to within 25-20 before the Waves called a timeout. Seven points after the time out, UF rallied to get within two points at 25-27 forcing Pepperdine to call its second timeout. Two points later, the game was tied at 27. UF took its first lead at 28-27 on a Cruz kill. Pepperdine tied the game at 28 with a kill. Two points later, UF had itself a 30-28 Game 1 win. At one point in the first game, Pepperdine was hitting .400, but it finished the stanza with a team percentage of .071.

"After our 20th point, I felt that if we could match Pepperdine dig for dig, we could out block them and weather the storm early," Gator head coach Mary Wise said following the match.

The Gators did not waste any time getting ahead in the second game. UF used exceptional blocking and efficient hitting. Jacque Robinson, who hit negative numbers in the first game, had consecutive kills in the early 8-5 lead. After Florida had a four-point lead at 14-10, Pepperdine inched to within two points at 14-12. The Gators came back and extended its lead to 19-14. That five-point lead was match once again by the Gators with a 23-18 lead, forcing Pepperdine to call a timeout. After the time out, the Waves inched back to within 22-24. Pepperdine won three of the next six points to remain within two points. Nicole McCray registered a solo block to give the Gators their first game point. Niki Hartley killed an off-speed attack to give Florida a 2-0 lead at the intermission.

UF jumped out to a 11-6 lead in the third game before Pepperdine called a time out. The lead was extended to 15-6 thanks to two kills and a block by McCray. UF never looked back, its biggest lead was 13 points. Pepperdine hit an attack out of bounds for the winning point for the Gators.

"To be one of eight teams remaining in the country, we're pretty excited about that," Wise said.

UF advances to the regional final for the ninth time in the last 11 years. It will play the winner of the Nebraska vs. Colorado State match which will be played immediately following the Gator match. That match will be tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern time at the Nebraska Coliseum.

End of Report

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