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The Gators advance to the East Region Final Saturday, where they will face Washington State.

Friday December 13, 2002VB Sweeps Temple, Advances to East Region Final

Gainesville, FL

The Gators advance to the East Region Final Saturday, where they will face Washington State.

Junior Aury Cruz recorded 12 kills, and senior Nicole McCray added 10 kills and tied her career high in solo blocks with three, powering Florida to a 3-0 (30-15, 30-27, 30-14) win over Temple Friday in front of 2,423 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

"We've had some success over the years in this semifinal match of the regionals, where we've had some time to prepare," said UF Head Coach Mary Wise. "We needed every minute of it to prepare for Temple."

McCray added, "We knew that this match was gonna be really long. We knew that they just weren't gonna roll over and die in the second game. We've shown great resiliency and we’re a team that never stops fighting. We just knew we had to pull together and our coaches stressed being patient and that's what we did. We won some really long rallies and I think that helped our team gain momentum."

Florida (33-2) came out firing in the first game, scoring the first two points on a Jacque Robinson kill and a McCray solo block. After the Owls (28-7) scored, the Gators answered with a 6-1 run to take an 8-2 lead. Florida kept that momentum throughout the first stanza, winning 30-15.

Game two was a different story, as Temple took a 1-0 lead. Florida scored the next three points to go ahead, but the lead was cut short. After tying the game at 4-4, Temple went on a 4-2 run to take an 8-5 lead. Florida had to work from behind, tying the game at 10-10, then again at 12-12. Temple then scored the next two points to go ahead 14-12, and after the Gators tied it at 14-14, the Owls went on a 5-1 tear take a 19-15 lead. Down 22-18, Florida battled back to within one at 22-21 on two kills by Cruz and several Temple miscues. The Gators took the lead at 27-26 on a kill from McCray and sealed the 30-27 win on a kill from Michelle Chatman.

Game three mirrored the first stanza, with Florida opening the game with an 8-1 run. With an 8-3 lead, the Gators went on another large run, this time using a 9-1 tear to go ahead 17-4. Florida sealed the win with a 7-1 run to end the match.

Cruz, McCray and Robinson all reached double figures in kills, with 12, 10 and 10, respectively. This was Florida’s 27th sweep of the season, and the Gators out-dug Temple 42-25. McCray’s three solo blocks also ties a UF record for solo blocks in an NCAA Tournament match.

For the Owls, Xu Yun, the Atlantic-10 Player of the Year, registered a team-high 10 kills, while Yamit Haba recorded a team-high eight digs.

The Gators now face Washington State at 4 p.m. in the East Region final. The Cougars swept Northern Iowa 3-0 (31-29, 30-21, 30-21) to advance. LaToya Harris led Washington State with 16 kills, and five Cougars tallied at least seven digs in the win. Washington State held Northern Iowa to just a .117 hitting efficiency, and the Panthers were led by Molly O’Brien with 12 kills.

Saturday’s East Region final will be shown live on Sunshine Network. The match will also be carried on WRUF-AM850 and on


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