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Thursday September 9, 2004No. 4 VB Comes From Behind To Beat No. 15 K-State

MINNESOTA, Minn.

Junior outside hitter Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) posted her third straight double-double with a career-high tying 19 kills and a career high 21 digs, while senior middle blocker Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) added 17 kills as No. 4 Florida won its 33rd consecutive regular season match in defeating No. 15 Kansas State 3-2 (15-30, 30-19, 26-30, 30-27, 15-13) in the first match at the Diet Coke Classic Thursday at the Sports Pavilion.

The match marked the first time Florida (5-0) had played five games since the 2002 season and the first UF win in a five-game match since defeating Penn State 3-2 on Sept. 20, 2002. The 5-0 start for the Gators is their sixth in school history.

"We're fortunate to have won, but we learned a lot of things tonight," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "We've never asked a team to do what we did during the last week in terms of travel and that showed in game one. But when we got balls to our seniors, in particular, Sherri Williams, that's when we started scoring points."

In a tight game five, Florida jumped out to an early lead before K-State (4-2) rallied to tie the score at 5-5. Florida then scored three straight points, two coming on kills from freshman Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.), before the Wildcats took the lead at 10-9. Florida then scored four straight points to take a 13-10 lead before sealing the match on a kill by Collymore at 15-13.

"We don't win the match without the play of Jane Collymore tonight," Wise said. "She helped the team in a lot of other ways tonight."

The statistics were close across the board with the Gators holding their fifth straight opponent to under .200 hitting to start the season as both teams hit .178. Florida finished with more kills (70-64), assists (63-57) and digs (81-85), while the Wildcats ended the match with 13.0 blocks to Florida's 9.0 - the first time the Gators have been out-blocked in 2004.

Junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) also performed well for the Gators, adding a career high 26 digs - 14 more than her previous best, while freshman Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) picked up the first double-double of her career with 36 assists and 11 digs. Hampton also finished with her first double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs.

The Wildcats took control of the first game early on in handing Florida its first loss in a game during the regular season since K-State won a game against Florida in the Gators' second match of the season in 2003 - a stretch of 31 straight matches. With the score tied at 4-4, K-State took six of the next seven points in building a 10-5 lead, which the Gators couldn't overcome before falling 30-15.

Florida responded in game two by holding K-State to .029 hitting, while the Gators improved from .097 to .302 in winning 30-19. With the Gators already leading 6-4, Florida notched the next five points to go on top 11-4 as senior middle blocker Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) recorded a pair of kills. K-State narrowed the gap as close as five at 17-12, but Florida eventually scored six of the final eight points to close out the game on a kill from Hampton.

Florida controlled the early stages of the third game as the Gators jumped out to an early 6-2 advantage. After the Wildcats tied the game at 6-6, Florida reeled off six straight points to go ahead 12-6. With the Gators leading 16-11, K-State came back to take the lead at 19-17. Florida battled back, tying the match at 21-21 and later at 23-23 before pulling ahead 25-23 on back-to-back kills by Collymore, who also had 10 digs in the third game alone. But the Wildcats closed out the game by taking seven of the last 10 points to earn a 30-26 win.

The fourth game was a close affair the entire way before the Gators pulled away in the closing moments for a 30-27 win. Collymore led the way for the Gators with nine kills in the game, while Engel added 10 digs in the game. Florida built an early 15-10 lead before K-State closed the gap to two at 20-18 and later 22-20. But the Gators took control, going ahead by four at 26-22 on a kill by Collymore before sending the match to a fifth game on a kill by Williams that gave UF a 30-27 win.

Florida resumes play in the Diet Coke Classic Friday with a contest against Northern Iowa set for 5 p.m. (EST) at the Sports Pavilion. The match can be heard live on WRUF-AM 850 or via the internet at www.GatorZone.com

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