Friday November 14, 2003No. 3 VB Sweeps So. Carolina, Clinches SEC Title
Behind 25 points from Aury Cruz on 22 kills, two service aces and two block assists, the third-ranked Florida volleyball team swept South Carolina 3-0 (30-23, 30-25, 30-17) Friday in Columbia, S.C. With the win, Florida clinches at least a share of the Southeastern Conference title, marking the 13th consecutive season that the Gators have at least shared the championship.
With a win Sunday at Kentucky, the Gators would be outright SEC champions.
Cruz's 22 kills ties her season-high, and she tallied a double-double by adding 10 digs on the night. Both Sherri Williams and Jane Collymore chimed in with 10 kills, and Rachel Engel added 12 digs in the effort.
South Carolina (12-15, 6-9 SEC) got on the board first with two straight points to open the match before Florida notched a kill to make it 2-1. After a long rally that included saves from both teams, the Lady Gamecocks won the point at 3-1. Florida (27-1, 15-0 SEC) quickly tied it at 3-3 before a service error gave South Carolina a point and the serve. A kill from Sherri Williams got the Gators back to within one at 5-4 and a long Lady Gamecock attack knotted the game at 5-5. Aury Cruz gave Florida its first lead of the game with a kill on the next play, and the Gators scored three straight points to take a 9-5 lead and force South Carolina into its first timeout. The Lady Gamecocks answered by going on a 5-1 run to tie the game at 10-10. A kill by Cruz gave Florida the lead, but South Carolina responded with two straight points to regain the lead at 12-11. The Gators tied it on the next play, but the Lady Gamecocks came right back with two kills for the 14-12 advantage.
After both teams scored again, an attack error and a Jane Collymore ace tied the game at 15-15 for Florida. The two teams traded points again on the next two plays before South Carolina went on a 2-0 run to take an 18-16 lead and force the Gators to use a timeout. After the stoppage, a Cruz kill pulled Florida to within one, and a South Carolina miscue and a Lauren Moscovic ace gave the Gators the 19-18 advantage. The Gators took over the momentum after that play, scoring on the next two plays for their largest lead of the game. With Florida leading 21-18, South Carolina used its final timeout. South Carolina would not go away, though, working its way back to a tie at 23-23 before the Gators used their final timeout. After the stoppage, the Gators opened a 7-0 run, including kills from Michelle Chatman, Cruz and Williams, shutting out the Lady Gamecocks for the remainder of the game and to win game one 30-23.
Behind the serving of Cruz, the Gators opened game two with two straight points. After South Carolina closed to within one point at 5-4, a Collymore kill and two straight aced from Sherri Williams gave the Gators an 8-4 lead. The Lady Gamecocks again got to within one, this time at 9-8, before a service error gave the Gators the point and the serve. With the Gators leading 12-9, Taylor Williams served up an ace and Cruz added a kill to extend Florida's lead to 13-9. The Gators extended that lead to 18-12 before the lady Gamecocks used their final timeout. After the stoppage, the teams traded points until the Gators opened up a nine-point lead at 24-15, but South Carolina went on a 4-1 to close to within six points at 25-19. Florida had game point at 29-22, but the Lady Gamecocks would score three more points before the Gators put the game away 30-25.
Cruz started game three with an ace for the Gators but the Lady Gamecocks responded with three straight to take a 3-1 lead. Florida eventually worked its way back to the lead at 5-4 and extended that lead to 9-4 before South Carolina called a timeout. Florida didn't take long in forcing the Lady Gamecocks into using their final timeout after opening up a 15-6 lead. After the stoppage, South Carolina went on a 4-1 run to close to within six at 16-10. The teams traded points for the next few plays before the Gators took a 10-point lead at 22-12. The Lady Gamecocks cut the lead to seven at 22-15 before a service error returned the serve to Florida. The Gators closed out the win in the match with a 30-17 victory in game three.
For South Carolina, Shonda Cole led the team with 12 kills, while Katelyn Panzau added 10 digs in the effort.
The Gators close out the regular season on Sunday when they face Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. The match begins at 1:30 p.m.