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Sunday November 23, 2003VB Stars Lead Gators to SEC Tournament Title

Columbia, SC

Jane Collymore tallied 19 points with the help of 12 kills and Aury Cruz became Florida's career kills leader after recording 15 kills as the third-ranked Florida volleyball team defeated Arkansas 3-0 (30-16, 30-19, 30-15) to win the 2003 Southeastern Conference Tournament championship. The title is the Gators' sixth straight league tournament title and 11th overall, and with the win, Florida secures an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

"We felt the key was who would win the serving passing battle," said UF Head Coach Mary Wise. "They are relentless on how hard they serve. Arkansas is at its best when running points off serves. A lot of today's good play had to do with the Tennessee game yesterday. As good of a serving team as Arkansas is if we can pass against them we can pass against other teams we play (in the NCAA tournament).

Cruz added 11 digs to her day and was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player, and Collymore and Lauren Moscovic joined her on the all-tournament team. Moscovic recorded 36 assists, four blocks and five digs, while Collymore added four service aces and seven digs. Sherri Williams tallied nine kills, and Jacque Robinson hit .800 with four kills.

Cruz got the Gators started with a service ace, and an Arkansas hitting error gave Florida a 2-0 lead to start the match. After the Lady 'Backs got on the board, the Gators went on a 5-0 run on kills from Cruz, Collymore and Williams to take a 7-1 lead. Florida extended its lead to eight points at 11-3 on a Williams kill. With the Gators leading 12-5, though, Arkansas went on a 3-0 run to move to within four points at 12-8. A kill by Moscovic stopped the Lady 'Backs' series and began a 5-0 run to give Florida the 17-8 advantage. The Gators took a 20-10 lead after a Collymore kill and an Arkansas error, forcing the Lady 'Backs to use a timeout. With Florida ahead 21-13, Williams tallied two of her six first-game kills, and after the Lady 'Backs scored on the next play, the Gators added three more points, including a block by Cruz and Michelle Chatman to take a 26-14 and force Arkansas into their final timeout. The Gators finished out the first game 30-16.

With game two tied 1-1, Collymore took over for the Gators, scoring on the next three plays with two kills and a solo block to give Florida the 4-1 advantage. Arkansas worked its way back to take the lead at 5-4, but Collymore again came through and tied it with a kill. The Gators took the lead back on kills from Cruz and Williams, and after the Lady 'Backs closed to within one point at 9-8, Moscovic tallied a kill and a solo block for the three-point Gator lead at 11-8. With a 15-12 lead, Florida went on a 4-1 run that included a Moscovic-Williams block, a Collymore ace and kills from Cruz and Williams and forced Arkansas to burn a timeout. The Gators extended that lead to nine points at 26-17 on two straight Cruz service aces, forcing the Lady 'Backs to use their final timeout of the game. Florida took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 30-19 win in game two.

Game three began with a Robinson kill, and after Arkansas scored on the next play, Collymore picked up where she left off in game two with a kill for the 2-1 Florida lead. The Lady 'Backs knotted the game at 3-3, but consecutive kills from Williams and Cruz gave the Gators the 5-3 advantage. With Florida leading 5-4, it was Williams' turn, as she was part of blocks on the next three plays for the Gators. A few plays later, Cruz tied the school record for career kills when she tallied her 12th of the match to give Florida the 12-7 lead. The Gators continued to pull away from Arkansas, and with a 20-13 lead, forced the Lady 'Backs to call a timeout. After the stoppage, Moscovic and Williams combined for another block, and Collymore followed that with two straight service aces for the 23-13 Gator advantage. Two plays later, Cruz set the school record for career kills with her 13th kill of the day. Florida controlled the rest of the game, winning 30-15 to win the game and the match.

For Arkansas, Denitza Koleva tallied a team-high seven kills, while Iva Docekalova added eight digs in the effort.

The Gators have now won an NCAA-record 91 consecutive games and have played just one more game this season than the minimum.

Florida will travel to Puerto Rico next week to face the Puerto Rican National team in two matches before the NCAA Tournament begins.

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