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The Gators swept Illinois State 3-0 Friday in the Conference Challenge.

Friday November 29, 2002VB Sweeps Illinois State 3-0

Orlando, FL

The Gators swept Illinois State 3-0 Friday in the Conference Challenge.

The third-ranked Florida Gator volleyball team swept Illinois State 3-0 (30-10, 30-16, 30-19) Friday on the first day of the Conference Challenge at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. In the first match of the tournament, No. 8 Northern Iowa defeated Georgia 3-2.

Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas) led the Gators in kills with eight, while Aury Cruz (Levittown, Puerto Rico) led all players with 12 digs. Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) added a match-high five blocks in the win.

The Gators jumped out to a quick start in game one, scoring the first two points and continuing on a 5-2 run for the 7-2 advantage. Possession by possession, Florida’s lead grew to 12-5, followed by a 7-1 run for a 19-6 lead. With the Gators ahead 20-9, Florida began an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 28-9, and closed out the first game 30-10. The 10 points allowed by the Gators is the fewest in a game this season.

Florida rolled to a 3-0 start in the second game as well, and the closest Illinois State ever got was 4-2. Again, the Gators built a large lead with a 5-0 run halfway through the game to take the 18-8 advantage. Florida’s largest lead of the game came at the final tally, as the Gators took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 30-16 win in the second stanza.

Game three started as a different story, as the Redbirds took a 2-0 lead. With the game tied at 2-2, Florida began a 4-0 run that was followed by a 3-0 clip by Illinois State to close the Gator lead to 6-5. After allowing Florida another point, the Redbirds scored two straight to knot the game at 7-7. The Gators then jumped out to a 10-7 lead, only to see Illinois State eventually tie it again at 11-11. Florida then turned up the heat, scoring six straight to take a 17-11 lead. Illinois State closed to within three at 18-15, but the Gators closed out the game and the match with a 30-19 win.

For the Redbirds, Erin Jones’ eight kills led the team, while Jenny Kabbes tallied a team-high seven digs. For the fifth time this season, the Gators held their opponent to a negative hitting efficiency, as the Redbirds hit -.051 for the match.

In the first match of the tournament, Northern Iowa took the first two games of the match before Georgia came roaring back. The Panthers defeated the Bulldogs, though, in five games (30-23, 30-17, 21-30, 28-30, 15-7). Molly O’Brien led four Panthers in double digits with 18 kills, while Kim Kester added 10 digs in the win. For Georgia, Alexandra Oquendo tallied 15 kills, followed by Meagan Welch with 14 and Jennifer Foytich with 12.

Florida will now face Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while Georgia and Illinois State battle at 12 p.m.

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