Sunday November 14, 2004No. 7 VB Falls To No. 15 Tennessee; Earns Share of SEC Title
Junior Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) finished with a double-double and scored 30.5 points, while senior Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) added a career-high tying 16 kills, but it wasn't enough as No. 7 Florida fell to No. 15 Tennessee 3-2 (21-30, 30-23, 30-25, 29-31, 12-15) Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 2,322 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
Florida (23-3 overall, 15-1 SEC) still earned a share of the program's 14th straight Southeastern Conference title and the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament next weekend by virtue of winning more games head-to-head against Tennessee (26-2, 15-1) this season. Florida will host the SEC Tournament beginning Friday, Nov. 19. The Gators will take on No. 8 seed South Carolina in the day's final match at 7 p.m.
"You have to give credit to Tennessee - they played well today," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "I thought the key was Amy Morris. She put on a defensive clinic and kept rallies in play all day long. Tennessee also did a very good job of blocking balls today and the better blocking team won.
"At the beginning of the season, this is how I thought things would play out with both Tennessee and Florida with one loss," Wise said. "I just didn't think they we'd win in Knoxville and they would win here. Still, we earned a share of the SEC title and we're looking forward to hosting the tournament next weekend."
Collymore finished with 25 kills and 16 digs in picking up her 25th double-double of her career. Chatman finished with 16 kills on .343 hitting, while junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) added 27 digs. Freshman Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) also recorded her seventh career double-double with 11 kills and 15 digs, while freshman setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) picked up her fifth double-double with career-highs in assists (62) and digs (18). Senior middle blocker Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) also fared well for the Gators with 12 kills and 6.0 total blocks. Senior Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) also entered double figures for the Gators with 14 digs, while freshman Kisya Killingsworth (Deltona, Fla.) tied her career high with nine kills.
The Gators and Lady Vols battled back and forth in the early stages of the fifth game as the teams traded points until the match was tied at 6-6. Florida then scored two straight on kills from Williams and Collymore in moving ahead 8-6. Following a Tennessee point, the Gators went on top 9-7 after block assists from Collymore and Williams. But Tennessee scored six consecutive points to take a 13-9 lead. Florida fought back within two at 13-11 after a pair of kills from Collymore, but the Lady Vols ended the match on a kill from Yuliya Stoyanova at 15-12.
The loss ends Florida's streak of consecutive regular season SEC matches won at 145 and the Gators' stretch of SEC matches won overall at 121. Both are NCAA records. The Gators hadn't lost to an SEC opponent during the regular season since 1994 and hadn't lost to an SEC opponent at home since 1990 - a stretch of 109 straight victories.
The Lady Vols took control of the first game early on, using a 4-0 run to push what was already a two-point lead to six at 12-6. Florida battled back, narrowing the gap to two at 16-14 after a three-0 run. The Gators then pulled within one at 17-16 after a Tennessee attack error. But the Lady Vols scored six of the next seven points to build a 23-17 lead that the Gators couldn't overcome as Tennessee eventually claimed a 30-21 win. Chatman led Florida with four kills in the game.
Florida and the Lady Vols played close through the opening stages of the second game before the Gators used a key 7-2 run midway through in turning a tied game into a five-point lead for Florida before the Gators eventually won 30-23. Florida outhit the Lady Vols .220-.120 in the second game as Florida minimized its hitting errors from game one to two. Following Florida's 7-2 run in which the Gators then led by a score of 16-11, the Lady Vols came as close as four at 20-16, but the Gators eventually closed out the game on a Tennessee attack error. Chatman and Hampton each had four kills for Florida, while Engel had 10 digs in the game with Moscovic adding six.
The Gators led from start to finish in the third game and fought off a late Tennessee rally before winning the game 30-25. With the Gators ahead 8-7, Florida scored five of seven points in accumulating a 13-9 advantage. After Tennessee narrowed the deficit to 13-11, Florida recorded four of the next five points to move on top 18-12. After the Lady Vols came within three at 19-16, Florida again responded to the Tennessee run with three of the next four points with block assists from McGinnis and Williams giving the Gators a 23-17. Tennessee again fought back, coming within two at 25-23, but the Gators closed out the game by scoring four of five points, the last of which coming on a kill from Williams. Collymore led Florida with six kills in the game, while also collecting a team-best seven digs.
Florida fell behind early in the fourth game before making a fierce comeback toward the end, but the Gators eventually fell 31-29. Slowly but surely, the Lady Vols pulled away in the game, adding a point or two here and there until they eventually were on top 26-19. The Gators scored three straight led by a pair of kills from Chatman to come within four at 26-22. Following another Tennessee point, Florida reeled off five straight to tie the game at 27-27 with the Lady Vols committing three attack errors in the run. Tennessee went ahead 28-27 before Florida tied the game on a kill from Williams. The Lady Vols again went ahead at 29-28, but the Gators fought off a match point on a kill from Collymore to tie things at 29-29. But the Lady Vols put the game away with the final two points in tying the match at two games apiece. Collymore again led Florida with seven kills.
Florida returns to action when Friday evening when the Gators will face South Carolina at 7 p.m. at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The tournament will be played all day on Friday with matches at noon, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The semifinals will be played on Saturday with matches at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday's title match will be at 3 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Sunshine Network and Fox Sports South. All of Florida's matches during the tournament will also be broadcast live on WRUF-AM 850 and onwww.GatorZone.com. For more information on the SEC Tournament, log on to www.GatorZone.com