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Friday November 12, 2004VB Defeats South Carolina; Wins Share of SEC Title

Gainesville, Fla.

Junior Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) had 13 kills, while senior Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) added 10 as No. 7 Florida earned at least a share of its 14th consecutive Southeastern Conference title in defeating South Carolina 3-0 (30-18, 30-22, 30-18) Friday afternoon before a crowd of 1,907 fans at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

The Gators (23-2 overall, 15-0) will face No. 15 Tennessee (25-2, 14-1) Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the O'Connell Center for the chance to earn outright the program's 14th straight SEC title.

"We look at this win as having put ourselves in a position to win the SEC title outright," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "Tennessee has been ranked among the top 15 teams for a good part of the season and I think it will be a great match. It's a great way to end the SEC regular season."

Florida defeated the Gamecocks (12-12, 5-10) for the 22nd straight time in winning their NCAA record 145th consecutive SEC regular season match and their 121st straight SEC match overall. The win also was Florida's 109th straight at home in SEC matches. The Gators outhit South Carolina .312-.067, while finishing with more kills (49-36), digs (47-36), aces (7-2) and total blocks (5.0-3.0).

Williams finished with 10 kills on .533 hitting, while junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) reached double figures in digs with 12 for the 18th time this season. Collymore also extended her streak of double-digits in kills to 14, while she finished tied for the match high in kills with 13 - marking the 21st time in 25 matches this season in which she led all players or tied for the lead.

Florida used an 8-0 early in the first game in building an insurmountable lead before eventually taking the game 30-18. With the Gators leading 8-6, Florida scored eight consecutive points behind the serve of freshman outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) in taking a 16-6 advantage. Freshman setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) and Williams each notched a pair of kills in the stretch. The Gators then used a 6-3 run late in the game to go on top 28-13 before South Carolina scored five of six points to close the gap to 29-18. But the Gators closed out the game on an attack error from the Gamecocks. Collymore led Florida with five kills and two service aces in the game, while Engel had six digs.

South Carolina took the upper hand in the opening stages of the second game before a Florida rally midway through carried the Gators to a 30-22 win. The Gamecocks jumped out to an 8-4 lead and later were on top 11-5 before Florida scored seven straight points to move ahead 12-11. The two squads see-sawed back and forth with the Gators slowly pulling away. Leading by three at 21-18, Florida tallied four straight to move ahead 25-18 as Hampton recorded two of the points on kills. The Gators eventually put the game away on a kill from Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.). Collymore and Hampton each posted six kills in the game to lead Florida with Hampton also adding a team-best five digs.

The final game was close until the midway point when Florida used an 8-0 run to boost its lead from four to 12 before eventually winning the game at 30-18. The Gators got off to a good start, scoring five of the first six points. Florida maintained its lead until the Gamecocks came within four at 17-13. Then behind the serving of senior Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.), Florida scored the next eight points to take a 25-13 lead. Chatman notched a career-high in the match with four service aces - all of them coming during this stretch. Florida eventually put the game away when a Williams serve led to an attack error by South Carolina. Williams paced Florida with five kills in the game.

Florida returns to action for its final regular season SEC match on Sunday vs. No. 15 Tennessee. Florida's senior Class of 2004 will be recognized prior to the match, which is slated for a 1:30 p.m. start time. The contest can be heard live on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com. In addition, the match can be see live via GatorVision Online.

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