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Sunday September 5, 2004VB Closes Out NU Labor Day Invite With Victory

EVANSTON, Ill.

The No. 4 ranked University of Florida moved to 4-0 behind solid efforts in the final match of the NU Labor Day Invite as the Gators defeated host Northwestern 3-0 (30-24, 30-20, 30-14) on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The Gators moved to 4-0 for the first time since the 1997 season when Florida began 10-0.

"These two matches today gave us two different looks, which will help us down the road," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "IPFW featured two international players and that also presents a challenge, while Northwestern allowed us to be the visiting team for the first time and deal with that. We're still a work in progress, but we're getting better with every match."

For the fourth straight match to begin the season, the Gators dominated their opponent statistically. Florida finished with more kills (45-34), assists (42-33), aces (7-3) digs (53-40) and total blocks (9.0-2.0), while the Gators out-hit Northwestern (2-1) .314 to .048. Florida also held its fourth straight opponent under .200 hitting.

Junior Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) paced Florida with her second straight double-double with 14 kills and 13 digs, while junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) added 12 digs to match her season-high.

Freshman outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) finished with eight kills and eight digs, while senior middle blocker Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) added nine kills in 14 attempts.

After the two teams went back and forth early in game one, the Gators took control after finding themselves down 8-7. With senior Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) serving, Florida reeled off seven straight points to go on top 14-8. Florida extended its lead to 26-16 before a Northwestern comeback narrowed the score to 29-24. But Williams finished off the Wildcats in game one with a kill to give UF a 30-24 win. Williams led all Gators with five kills in the game with Collymore adding four kills and six digs.

Both teams slumped a bit offensively in the second game as UF held Northwestern to .054 hitting, while the Gators hit .265. Collymore posted five kills in the game, while Marcie Hampton added four kills and four digs. The Gators led from start to finish with the Wildcats getting as near as four at 23-19 before Florida scored nine of the next 10 points to close the match out on a hitting error by Northwestern at 30-20.

Florida wasted little time in establishing itself in the third and final game as the Gators blasted out to leads of 4-0, 11-2 and 18-5 before eventually taking the game at 30-14.

The Gators return to action Thursday for the first of three matches in three days at the Diet Coke Classic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Gators will take on No. 14 Kansas State on Thursday at 8 p.m. (EST), No. 21 Northern Iowa on Friday at 5 p.m. (EST) and No. 5 Minnesota at 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday. The first two matches will be carried live on WRUF-AM 850, while the contest against Minnesota will be webcast on www.GatorZone.com.

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