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Aury Cruz recorded a match-high 23 kills in Florida's 3-0 sweep of Alabama Friday.

Friday November 8, 2002No. 3 Volleyball Fights Off Crimson Tide 3-0

Tuscaloosa, AL

Aury Cruz recorded a match-high 23 kills in Florida's 3-0 sweep of Alabama Friday.

The third-ranked University of Florida volleyball team swept Alabama 3-0 (30-24, 30-28, 30-16) Friday at the CAVE in the first of two Southeastern Conference road matches this weekend.

With the win, Florida (23-1, 13-0 SEC) remains undefeated in SEC action and extends its NCAA-record streak of consecutive regular-season conference wins to 111. Of those 111 consecutive wins, 94 have been sweeps.

Alabama 16-12, 6-7 SEC) scored first in the match on a service error by Florida's Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.). The Gators evened the score on the next play with a kill from Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico), but would give up the serve and a point to the Crimson Tide with another service error. With the score tied 3-3, Florida went on a 4-0 run to open up a 7-3 lead that culminated with a kill from Chatman. Alabama worked its way back to within two points at 10-8 before the Gators answered with two straight points off kills from Jacque Robinson (Merced, Calif.) and Cruz, respectively. The Crimson Tide came back again with two points, but Florida would eventually build a five-point lead at 21-16. Alabama came back and brought the game to within three at 21-18. The Gators largest lead came at 26-20 when Florida took a six-point lead on Chatman's second kill of the match. With the Gators ahead 29-24, a hitting error by a Crimson Tide player ended game one with Florida winning 30-24.

Benavia Jenkins (Fort Pierce, Fla.) put the Gators on the board first in the second game with her third kill of the match, and, after Alabama tied the game at 1-1, Jenkins added another kill to her total to give Florida the 2-1 advantage. After trading points, Alabama took a 6-4 lead, but a kill from Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas) brought the Crimson Tide lead to just one point at 6-5. Alabama, though, answered with a 4-1 run to take a 10-6 lead. The momentum then shifted the Gators' way, as a Cruz kill, two Alabama hitting errors and a Jenkins solo block knotted the game at 10-10. After losing the next point, Florida went on a 4-1 run to take a 14-12 lead. Alabama again worked its way back at took the lead at 16-15. Florida tied the game at 18-18 on a Crimson Tide hitting error and took the 19-18 lead on Alabama's second straight hitting error. With the score tied 20-20, Alabama opened up a 4-0 run to take a 24-20 lead. Cruz answered with a kill, but the Crimson Tide scored the next point to keep the four-point advantage. Jenkins' kill on the next play cut the Alabama lead back to three at 25-22, but once again, the Crimson Tide answered to take a 26-22 lead.

With time running out for the Gators in game two, Florida went on a 3-0 run that included a block from McCray and Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) and a dump by Moscovic that brought Florida back to within one at 26-25. After Alabama added a point to its lead, Florida rebounded with kills on consecutive plays from Cruz and Robinson, respectively. The Gators reclaimed the lead at 28-27 and had game point at 29-27. The Crimson Tide, however, would not quit and added a point to close to within one at 29-28. But a Cruz kill put the game away for Florida at 30-28. The momentum shifted the Gators' way permanently in game three as Florida took a 2-1 lead on a Jenkins and Moscovic block and never looked back. Cruz tallied nine kills in the third game alone as the Gators easily handled Alabama 30-16 to win the match 3-0.

For the 12th time this season, Cruz led the Gators in kills with 23. Friday's match is also the third time this season that Cruz has recorded more than 20 kills. Chatman's 12 digs led both teams, and Jenkins recorded six blocks on the match.

Erin Heffner led Alabama with 15 kills, and Kenna Milner led the team with eight digs.

Florida travels to Auburn Sunday for a 2 p.m. EST match with the Tigers. The Gators are 21-1 overall against Auburn and 17-0 under Head Coach Mary Wise. Sunday's match will be carried live on WRUF-AM850 and at www.gatorzone.com.

Match Notes

  • Five of Alabama's first seven points came off Florida service errors.
  • Florida's 14 service errors is the most this season.

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