Saturday August 31, 2002Volleyball Sweeps No. 19 Illinois 3-0
The seventh-ranked University of Florida volleyball team completed a perfect sweep of the University Centre Hotel Invitational with Saturday's 3-0 (30-16, 32-30, 30-25) victory over 19th-ranked Illinois in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in front of 3,404 fans.
"We know a whole lot more about our team now than we did after two matches yesterday because of all the things Illinois does effectively – how good they are, how well coached they are," said UF Head Coach Mary Wise. "We learned a whole lot about ourselves."
Sophomore Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) recorded the first double-double of her career with 12 kills and 10 digs – both career highs. Jacque Robinson (Merced, Calif.) added 11 kills, while Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas) also reached double digits in kills with 10.
In Game One, the Gators (3-0) jumped out to a 6-2 lead and saw their biggest lead come at 10 with the score 23-13. Benavia Jenkins (Ft. Pierce, Fla.), who hit .750 for the match with nine kills, was one of four Gators with a block in the first game of the match. Freshman Jane Collymore (Engelwood, Colo.) registered a career-high 11 digs.
Illinois (2-1) made a charge at Florida in the second game and took an 8-5 lead. After trading serves, the Gaotrs regained the lead at 12-11. The Fighting Illini were able to take the lead again at 21-18 before Florida worked its way back to a 21-21 tie. Florida fought off two game points and capitalized on its first to take a 2-0 lead after winning the second in a thrilling 32-30 affair.
Game Three saw Florida take a solid lead at 19-12, but Illinois staged a late comeback, going on an 8-3 run to pull within three points at 27-24. The Gators were able to hold on and won their third match in two days.
Florida begins the season at 3-0 for the first time since 1997. The Gators recorded nine blocks against Illinois’ front line that averages a height of 6-4. Freshman Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) made the first start of her career and added a kill, two assists and three digs in her first start.
Robinson was named Tournament MVP after leading the Gators to the Invitational title, posting 3-0 wins over Rhode Islands and UAB on Friday to open the event. UF's McCray and Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) were two of the six players named to the University Centre Hotel Invitational all-tournament team, joined by Illinois' Sue Webber and Lisa Arbogast, Rhode Island's Kaleena Miller and UAB's Martina Shields.
In the first match played Saturday afternoon, Rhode Island defeated UAB 3-0, with game scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-20. The win was the first of the young season for the Rams, who completed play at this weekend's University Centre Hotel Invitational with a 1-2 record. The Blazers opened the season losing their first three of the year.
The first two games of the match were tight, with neither team able to build more than a two-point lead until the very end. Kaleena Miller led RIU with a .410 hitting percentage, recording 20 kills on 39 attempts along with 11 digs. Samanta Tucillo was the most efficient performer for UAB, as she managed to hit .316 during the match.
Florida travels to Provo, Utah, next weekend for the BYU Mizuno Classic Sept. 6-7. The Gators take on the USC Women of Troy Friday at 9 p.m. EST. Florida will then face Oral Roberts on Saturday at 2 p.m. EST and host-school BYU Saturday at 9 p.m. EST. The Gators' matches against USC and BYU will be broadcast on the internet at www.gatorzone.com and www.am850.com.