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Friday November 19, 2004No. 10 VB Advances To SEC Semifinals With 3-0 Win

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) finished with 13 kills on a career-best .571 percentage as No. 10 Florida defeated South Carolina 3-0 (30-7, 30-20, 30-22) before 1,831 fans in the final match of the first round of the 2004 Southeastern Conference Tournament Friday evening at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

The top-seeded Gators (24-3) will take on No. 5 seed Georgia (18-9) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the semifinals after the Bulldogs defeated No. 4 seed Alabama 3-2 earlier in the day. Florida has now won 19 straight SEC Tournament matches and is in the running for its seventh straight SEC Tournament title. Florida outhit South Carolina .382-.062 and finished with more kills (53-28) and digs (45-29).

"Marcie played very well tonight," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "She did some good things in both the front and the back row. We're looking forward to facing a tough Georgia team tomorrow. It's always difficult when you face a team for the third time."

Junior outside hitter Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) led the Gators with 18.5 points on 14 kills and four service aces, while junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) had 10 digs to pace Florida.

Florida led from start to finish in the first game, dominating the Gamecocks en route to a 30-7 win in game one. The Gators raced out to an 8-2 lead and had 23 points on the board before South Carolina hit five. Florida wasn't ever challenged and eventually won the game on a kill from freshman Kari Klinkenborg (Highlands Ranch, Colo.). Florida out-hit South Carolina .571 to -.160 in the game with Hampton leading the way with six kills on seven attempts. Collymore also had four kills on five attempts.

The second game proved closer than the first, but the Gators used a 9-0 run midway through the game before taking the Gamecocks 30-20. The two teams battled back and forth in the opening stages as Florida went ahead 9-6 after three straight points. The Gamecocks got as close as three at 13-10, before the Gators went on their 9-0 behind the serving of Engel. The run extended Florida's lead to 12 at 22-10 and the Gators went on to claim the win at 30-20 on a kill by senior middle blocker Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.). Collymore paced Florida with five kills in the game with Hampton adding four.

The final game was the closest of the three with a tight game turning into a 30-22 win for the Gators after Florida scored eight of the final 10 points. The two teams see-sawed back and forth in the opening stages with the Gators finally taking the lead for good at 9-8 on an attack error by the Gamecocks. But South Carolina hung with the Gators, coming within two at 22-20. But behind Engel's serve, Florida reeled off eight straight points to move ahead 29-20. Florida closed out the match on a kill from Collymore, who lead Florida with five kills in the game. Engel paced the Gators with six digs.

Florida will face No. 5 seed Georgia on Saturday with the match scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Should the first match between Tennessee and Arkansas run long, the Gators' match will begin 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first match. The contest can be heard live on www.GatorZone.com

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