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Saturday November 20, 2004VB Come Back Vs. Georgia, Advances To SEC Title Match

Gainesville, Fla.

Senior Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) had a career-high 22 kills, while junior Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) had 28 kills as No. 10 Florida stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Georgia 3-2 (26-30, 24-30, 30-27, 33-31, 16-14) Saturday at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center before a crowd of 1,523 to advance to the SEC Tournament Championship Match.

The Gators struggled early in the contest and fought off three match points during the fourth game and were down 10-4 in the fifth game before coming back to advance to the championship match for the 14th straight season. The Gators will be looking for their seventh straight SEC Tournament title and their 12th in 14 years when they face No. 12 Tennessee on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the title match.

"If ever there was a team win, this was it," said Florida coach Mary Wise, who improved to 36-0 all-time against Georgia. "All of our players made contributions at different times in the match. The team showed a whole lot of heart, especially in game five when we were down 4-10."

Collymore reset her own school record by finishing with 91 attempts, while also posting a double-double with 28 kills and 13 digs. Junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) posted her third 30-plus dig performance of the season with 32, while senior Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) added 16 digs and 10 assists. Freshman setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) finished with a double-double with 61 assists and 22 digs.

With the situation looking bleak, the Gators found themselves down 10-4 in the fifth game after a 6-1 Georgia run. Following the team's second and final timeout, the Gators scored four straight points on a kill from Collymore, a kill from sophomore Stefanie Douglas (Temple, Texas), a Collymore service ace and another Douglas kill. Georgia scored the next point to move ahead 11-8, but the Gators answered with two straight on another Douglas kill and a Georgia blocking error. The teams traded points until the Bulldogs led 14-12, but the Gators fought off the match points when Georgia committed a blocking error followed by a Collymore kill to tie the game at 14-14. Following a Bulldog timeout, Georgia committed an attack error before Collymore put the match away on a kill at 16-14.

Moscovic moved into seventh place in school history for digs with 933 in her career, while Williams moved into 10th place in school history with 332 career blocks. Engel moved into third in school history for digs in a season with 418, while Collymore is now ninth in school history for most kills in a season with 499.

The Gators trailed by as many as six twice in the opening game and came back to make things interesting both times, but Georgia recorded the final five points to win the game 30-26. With the Bulldogs ahead 6-0 and following a Gator timeout, Florida scored seven of nine points to come within one at 8-7 on the strength of a pair of kills from Williams. The Bulldogs later extended their lead to six at 17-11, but the Gators again fought back, coming within one at 20-19 after block assists from senior middle blocker Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) and McGinnis. Georgia scored the next three points to go ahead 23-19 before Florida scored four straight to tie the match at 23-23. After a Bulldog point, the Gators scored the next two to take their first lead at 25-24. The two teams then traded points before Georgia scored the final five points to seal the game. Freshman outside hitter Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.) led Florida with five kills in the game, while Engel had six digs.

The second game was close most of the way before the Bulldogs pulled away late in a 30-24 win. With the game tied at 11-11, Georgia reeled off four straight points to move ahead 15-11. The Bulldogs eventually stretched their lead to five at 17-12 before the Gators tallied five of the next six points to close the deficit to one at 18-17. The teams traded points until Georgia extended its lead to 22-20 before eventually scoring eight of the final 12 points. Williams and Collymore each had five kills in the game for Florida, while Engel added eight digs with Moscovic recording six.

After faltering in the first two games, Florida took charge early in the third as the Gators scored six of the first seven points before fending off a late Georgia rally and claiming the game at 30-27. Led by a pair of kills and a service ace from Collymore, the Gators built a 6-1 advantage. The Bulldogs came back with four straight the close the gap to one at 6-5. Florida got a little separation by notching five of the next seven points to move ahead 11-7. Georgia again came back, coming within two at 12-12 and 15-13. The Gators then scored five straight points behind the serve of McGinnis to extend their lead to 20-13. The Bulldogs didn't quit as they narrowed the gap to two at 20-18. Georgia then came back to tie the game at 23-23. The Gators responded with five straight points to make the score 28-23 in favor of Florida before putting the game away on a kill from Williams. Collymore led Florida with eight kills, while Williams added six. Collymore and Engel paced the Gators with six digs apiece.

The Gators and Georgia again battled back and forth in the fourth game with Florida fighting off three match points before putting the Bulldogs away at 33-31 on a kill from Williams. The two teams exchanged the lead 13 times in the game. With the Gators ahead 27-26 after a kill from Williams, Georgia scored the next three points to give the Bulldogs a chance at match point at 29-27. Collymore put a ball away to make it 29-28 before a Georgia attack error tied the game at 29-29. The Bulldogs then went ahead 30-29 for another match-point opportunity, but Collymore again responded with a kill. Chatman and Hampton teamed up for a block on the following point to give Florida a 31-30 lead. The Bulldogs tied it at 31-31 on a kill from Meagan Welch before Collymore gave the Gators a one-point lead with a kill at 32-31. Williams followed with a kill on the following point to give the Gators the game. Collymore had eight kills in the game, while Williams added six with Engel recording eight digs.

Florida will face Tennessee in the SEC Tournament finale at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The match will be broadcast live on Sunshine Network and FSN South. The contest will also be carried live on WRUF-AM 850 and www.GatorZone.com

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