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Saturday November 23, 2002VB Sweeps Georgia, Advances to Champ. Match

Fayetteville, AR

The University of Florida volleyball team swept Georgia 3-0 (30-19, 30-20, 30-27) Saturday in the semifinal match of the SEC Tournament to advance to the Championship match for the 12th straight year. Florida will face host-school Arkansas at 3:30 EST. The match will be aired live in Gainesville and Ocala on Cox Channel 15. The match will also be aired on a tape-delay basis Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. on Sunshine Network.

"This match played out as we expected, in terms of a well-coached team, a team that was on a roll, playing its best volleyball of the year, playing with a lot of confidence," said UF Head Coach Mary Wise. "We fully expected Georgia to press us and not roll over, and that’s exactly what they did – they played well. It was a good match"

Georgia opened the scoring in the match with two straight points before Benavia Jenkins (Fort Pierce, Fla.) put the Gators on the board with a kill. The Bulldogs then took a 5-3 lead, but Florida came back with two points to tie it a 5-5. After the Bulldogs added another point, Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas) knotted the game at 6-6. The Gators took their first lead of the game on the next play and eventually worked their way out to a 12-10 lead. Florida went on a 7-2 run that included kills from McCray and Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) and blocks from Chatman, McCray, Jenkins and Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.). With that run, Florida took a 19-12 lead, and the Gators finished out the game 30-19 with a kill from Jacque Robinson (Merced, Calif.).

The Bulldogs took the lead in the second game as well, this time holding it longer than in the first stanza. The Gators tied it at 2-2 on an Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico) kill and again at 3-3 on a kill from Jenkins. Georgia then went on a 4-0 run to take the 7-3 advantage. Jane Collymore (Engelwood, Colo.) made the most of her first appearance of the game on the next play, immediately notching a kill to stop the Bulldog run. After the Gators added another point, Georgia added two more to increase its lead to four points at 9-5. With the Bulldogs holding a 10-7 lead, Florida went on a 7-0 run powered by two kills from McCray to take a 14-10 lead. The two teams traded points for a while before Florida opened up an eight-point lead at 26-18, with the last point coming on a block from Jenkins and Moscovic. Jenkins also added a solo block to put the Gators up 28-19, and Chatman closed out the game with a kill, as Florida took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 30-20 win in game two.

Chatman got the Gators on the board first in the third game with a kill, and a Moscovic ace tied the game at 3-3. With Georgia leading 8-7, McCray knotted the game at 8-8 and again at 9-9. The Bulldogs then went on a 3-0 run to take the 12-9 advantage. Florida then scored two straight to close to within one at 12-11 before the Bulldogs stopped the run. Georgia then began its own 5-0 run to take a 17-12 lead. Two straight mistakes by Georgia allowed Florida to close to within three at 17-13, but Georgia once again stopped the Gators’ momentum. A kill from McCray brought the Bulldog lead to just three at 20-17, and after Georgia added another point, the Gators forced the Bulldogs to call a timeout by bringing the score to 21-19 in favor of Georgia. On the next play, Jenkins and Cruz combined for a block to close to within one, but the Bulldogs responded with a kill to take a 22-20 advantage. Cruz then notched a kill on the next play, followed by a Georgia error. A service ace by Moscovic gave Florida the 23-22 advantage, its first lead since the Gators were ahead 7-6 early in the game. A kill by Cruz and a block by Jenkins and Robinson increased the Gator lead to 25-22, forcing the Bulldogs to use their final timeout. Georgia responded with a kill on the next play, but Cruz answered with a kill of her own. The teams traded serves for the next few points, and Florida took a 29-25 lead. The Bulldogs would not go quietly, however, scoring on the next two plays before a Georgia hitting error finished out the game and the match.

McCray led the Gators with 15 kills, followed by Cruz with 14. Defensively, Jenkins notched seven blocks and three Gators recorded seven digs. Florida out-blocked Georgia 9-5 and out-hit the Bulldogs .369 to 0.85.

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