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Sunday September 29, 2002Volleyball Sweeps Miss. State, Sets NCAA Record

Starkville, MS

The No. 3 Florida Gator volleyball team swept Mississippi State 3-0 (30-21, 30-14, 30-24) Sunday, setting a new NCAA record for most consecutive regular-season conference wins with 100.

The Gators (12-2, 2-0 SEC) eclipsed the record of 99 consecutive conference wins set by Western Michigan from 1982-89. The last match that Florida lost during the regular season was a 3-1 decision to South Carolina in the final regular-season match in 1994.

"We've said all along that our success is a direct result of the talent we've had come through this program," said UF Head Coach Mary Wise. "The other person who should get a whole lot of credit for these 100 wins is (Associate Head Coach) Nick Cheronis. He's in charge of scouting, so that's 100 times that he's edited video, prepared a game plan, get our team ready to play. The streak is a testament to how we've never taken a night off for all those years. And the nights that we weren't great, we were good enough to win. But I always felt that we prepared, and all that credit goes to Nick."

Game one began with Mississippi State (9-7, 0-2 SEC) taking a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs built a 10-6 lead before Jacque Robinson (Merced, Calif.) helped lead the Gators back. With two kills and a service ace, Robinson and the Gators tied the game at 10-10. Florida's first lead of the match came at 13-12, and the Gators went ahead 16-13 before Mississippi State came back and tied the game at 16-16. After a kill and three service aces by Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico) on the same serving run, Florida opened up a 9-0 run to go ahead 25-16. Florida's largest lead of the game came at 28-18, but the Bulldogs made a small comeback, scoring three straight points to come within seven at 28-21. The Gators, however, would take the first game 30-21.

Florida took the momentum to begin the second stanza, scoring the first point on a kill by Robinson. After trading points, Florida began a 4-0 run to take an 8-3 lead. After the Bulldogs scored two straight points, the Gators went on a 6-1 run to open a 14-6 lead. Once again, redshirt sophomore Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) came into the match and immediately contributed, notching a kill on the first play after she entered the match.

In the third game, Robinson and Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas) started the Gators out strong, blocking a Bulldog attack to put Florida on the board first. Robinson was responsible for the Gators' first four points of the game, with a block assist, two kills and a service ace. With Florida holding an 8-6 lead, Mississippi State scored two straight points to tie the game at 8-8. Two consecutive kills by Benavia Jenkins (Ft. Myers, Fla.) and McCray put the Gators back out on top 10-8. The Bulldogs answered on the next play, but Florida quickly took control and scored four straight points to open a 14-9 lead. After the Bulldogs added two points, the Gators went on another 4-0 and extended their lead to 19-12. The Gators held as much as a nine-point lead late in the stanza at 25-26, but Mississippi State fought its way back to a 25-21 deficit after a 5-0 run. The Bulldogs would come within four, but Florida wrapped up winning the match and setting the NCAA record with a 30-24 victory in game three.

Cruz led the Gators with 15 kills, and her four service aces marks a season-high. In her first match back after suffering an ankle injury against Penn State, Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) tallied 39 assists.

For Mississippi State, Misty Hubenthal recorded a team-high nine kills, while Rachel Cooper added 14 digs.

The Gators have also won 70 consecutive matches against conference opponents, including tournament matches, which is good for fifth in NCAA history. Western Michigan is atop that list with 106 straight victories.

Florida returns home to face Georgia Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the O'Connell Center. The match will be aired live on Sunshine Network as well as on WRUF-AM850.

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