Saturday September 21, 2002VB Battles No. 9 Penn State, Wins 3-2
Florida junior Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico) registered a match-high 27 kills and added 15 digs as the No. 3 Gator volleyball team defeated No. 9 Penn State 3-2 (32-30, 20-30, 32-30, 28-30, 15-12) in front of 1,313 at the American Volleyball Classic.
Sophomore Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) notched a career-high 16 digs, and three different Gators tallied five blocks in the win.
Florida (8-1) scored the first point of the match on a kill by Cruz. Penn State (9-1) quickly took a 3-1 lead. After trading points for more than half of the game, Florida reclaimed the lead at 20-19 on an ace by Benavia Jenkins (Ft. Pierce, Fla.). A kill by Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas) added to the Gator lead, but Penn State evened the score at 22-22. After 18 ties, Florida finally put the game away 32-30 with consecutive kills by McCray and Cruz.
Game Two began much like the opening game, with the two teams trading serves for the first portion of the stanza. But with Penn State holding a four-point lead at 15-11, the Nittany Lions opened up an 11-1 run to put the second game out of reach. Penn State took Game Two 30-20. In the third game, Florida and Penn State battled back and forth throughout the match. The Gators sealed the 32-30 win with a kill by Cruz.
Game Four saw Penn State take a 5-1 lead to begin the stanza. The Gators battled back to a 10-9 lead before Penn State reclaimed a 14-12 advantage. Florida went on runs of 5-1 and 6-0 to jump out to a 24-19 lead. The Nittany Lions, however, would work their way back to a four-point deficit at 27-23. Penn State then used a 7-1 run to win the fourth game 30-28.
In the deciding game, Florida trailed early 3-1. After tying the game at 3-3, the Gators went on a 9-2 run to take an 11-5 lead. Penn State then went on a 6-1 run to pull within one at 12-11. After battling through several long rallies, Florida finally put the match away with a 15-13, Game Five win.
For the third straight match, Florida defeated a team that entered the contest undefeated.
The Gators face American Sunday at 2 p.m. in the championship match of the American Volleyball Classic.