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Friday September 10, 2004No. 4 VB Moves To 6-0 With Win Against Northern Iowa

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.

Junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) came within one dig of the school record, while junior outside hitter Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) posted her fourth straight double-double and set a career high in kills as No. 4 Florida rebounded from a game one loss to defeat Northern Iowa 3-1 (26-30, 30-20, 30-11, 30-25) in the Diet Coke Classic Friday evening at the Sports Pavilion.

Collymore finished with a game-high 24 kills and 13 digs, while Engel posted 33 digs. Freshman outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) also set a career high with 19 kills and added her second straight double-double with 13 digs as the Gators (5-0) hit .335 as a team to .107 for Northern Iowa (3-2). Florida also finished with more kills (77-44), assists (73-42) digs (78-59) and team blocks (12.0-10.0).

"The key is that we won the match," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "I felt this match would be hard because we played five games against K-State last night and Northern Iowa didn't play at all. Tonight, we put a huge burden on our outside hitters and all Jane did was record a career high. And, how about the play of Marcie Hampton - a career high for her as well. I think you'd have to go back a long time to find a freshman at Florida who hit for as high a percentage as she did against a quality opponent."

Engel's tally of 33 digs was one shy of the school record set by Lyra Vance in 1987 against Florida State.

"What Rachel is doing is finding her way through the position," Wise said. "But playing libero suits her personality. She throws her body around to make plays."

Senior Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) posted a season-high 55 assists, while senior middle blocker Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) had 13 kills and seven total blocks.

In posting 20 kills for the second straight match, Collymore became the first Gator to accomplish the feat since Aury Cruz did so in the final two matches of the 2001 season. For Florida, which dropped the first game against K-State on Thursday, the occasion marked the first time since 1988 that the Gators had won consecutive matches after losing the first game in each.

Fueled by a pair of late 4-0 runs, Northern Iowa won the first game 30-26. Florida fell behind early before taking its first lead on a Northern Iowa attack error at 8-7. Florida later pulled ahead 12-10 on a kill by Collymore, but the Panthers scored the next three points to go ahead 13-12 - a lead they didn't relinquish. The Gators fought back to tie things at 19-19 on another kill by Collymore, but Northern Iowa scored four straight points to regain the lead at 23-19 before pulling away. Collymore had six kills in the game to lead the Gators, while Engel dug 10 balls in game one alone.

Like the previous evening against No. 15 Kansas State, the Gators tied the match up at 1-1 with a 30-20 win in the second game. Florida never trailed in game two, taking an early lead and losing grasp. Leading 14-11, Florida used a 5-0 spurt to take control of the game as Collymore posted a pair of kills in the run. Northern Iowa got as close as five at 22-17, but Florida scored six of the next seven points before senior middle blocker Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) closed out the game on a kill. Collymore again paced the Gators with six kills in the game.

Florida jumped on top of the Panthers early in the third game and never looked back in winning 30-11. Williams and Hampton each had five kills in the game to lead the Gators while Engel had six digs. With the score tied at 2-2, Florida six straight points to go ahead 8-2. Leading 9-4, the Gators then went on a 8-0 run as Williams recorded a pair of kills in giving Florida a decisive 17-5 advantage.

The Gators fell behind early in the fourth game as Northern Iowa raced out to a 10-7 lead. But Florida scored five straight points to charge ahead 12-10 and the Gators never trailed the rest of the way. With the scored knotted at 15-15, Florida seven of the next eight points, which featured two kills apiece from Williams, Hampton and Collymore. The Panthers came as close as two at 26-24, but Hampton eventually clinched the match with a kill at 30-25.

Florida will conclude play in the Diet Coke Classic Saturday with a matchup against No. 5 Minnesota with the first serve set for 8 p.m. (EST). The match will be broadcast live on WRUF-AM 850 as well as on www.GatorZone.com. In addition, the match will air on CSTV on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. (EST).

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