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Friday October 8, 1999Volleyball Beats Auburn 3-1

AUBURN, Ala.

No. 4 Florida defended its unbeaten streak in Southeastern Conference competition this season with a 15-9, 13-15, 15-1, 15-13 victory against Auburn Friday night in the Student Activities Center as four Gators recorded double-digit kills and digs.

The Gators (14-2, 5-0 SEC) remain the sole undefeated team in conference play and have won 10 straight. It was Florida's 16th consecutive win against the Tigers (11-6, 2-3 SEC). Florida is now 19-1 all-time against Auburn and 15-0 under Coach Mary Wise.

Senior All-America Jenny Manz (Orange Park, Fla./Middleburg) recorded her eighth double-double on the year with a match-high 20 kills and team-high 14 digs, and added four blocks. Junior middle blocker Heather Wright (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) notched her second-straight errorless offensive performance, hitting .704 with 19 kills on 27 attempts while adding four blocks. Sophomore Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree) notched 14 kills and seven blocks, playing for the first time in three matches.

"These were unbelievable-type stats against a very good blocking team," Coach Mary Wise said of her team's effort. "The main reason it was close was because of our 17 service errors."

Florida's errant serving was tied the most errors this sesaon.

Jenny Whitehead (Jenison, Mich./Jenison/Michigan State) recorded 16 kills and three blocks, and setter Jen Sanchez (San Antonio, Texas/Providence) earned her six double-double on the year with 70 assists and 12 digs. Sanchez also added four blocks. Sophomore Niki Hartley (San Jose, Calif./St. Francis) was the fourth player in double-digit digs with 10.

A 6-3 blocking advantage helped the Gators out of two deficits in game one. Auburn led 5-2 early, but McCray came up with two of her four game blocks and a kill to knot it a five apiece. The Tigers took their last lead at 8-5 in the next series with help from two Florida errors and a kill. Wright led Florida's .271 hitting efficiency, netting .667 herself (6-0-9). Auburn hit .106, but out-dug the Gators 19-14.

Auburn's second-game win snapped Florida's streak of 28 consecutive games won against the Tigers since 1993 and a season-high 17-game streak on the season. Florida out-hit, out-dug and out-blocked Auburn, .280-.140, 18-11 and 3-1, respectively. But, the Tigers took an early 6-1 lead from which the Gators couldn't recover and capitalized on six Florida serving errors in the 35-minute battle.

It only took 10 minutes for Florida to reverse fortunes in the third frame. The Gators rolled to a 6-0 lead before Auburn scored its only point on a Florida ball handling error. Each team only served through its rotation once. For the Gators, Manz and setter Jen Sanchez (San Antonio, Texas/Providence) combined for 11 points served. The Gators hit a match-high .692 to Auburn's -.188.

The Tigers fought hard in the fourth frame, putting up its best offensive effort of the match, hitting .151.

Florida finished with a .304 hitting efficiency for the match, marking the fifth consecutive contest the Gators have hit above .300. Auburn hit .104. The Gators put up 13 blocks, the most in a four game match this season, to the Tigers' seven.

Florida concludes its season-long road trip at Alabama Sunday, Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live from Coleman Coliseum.

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