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Saturday November 27, 2004Williams, Collymore Lead VB To Come-From-Behind Win

QUEENS, N.Y.

Junior Jane Collymore (Englewood, Colo.) finished with 26 kills, while senior Sherri Williams (Orlando, Fla.) added 16 kills and eight blocks as No. 12 Florida rallied from a 2-1 deficit in defeating Towson 3-2 (27-30, 30-26, 28-30, 30-15, 15-8) to win the St. John's Classic Saturday evening at Carnesecca Arena.

Florida (27-4) won its 53rd match in its last 61 non-conference contests and improved to 3-3 this season in five-game matches. Towson (25-8), the Colonial Athletic Association champions, didn't make it easy for the Gators, but Florida did finish with more kills (70-62), digs (95-81) and blocks (17.0-5.0), while the Gators outhit Towson .246-.108.

Florida trailed the Tigers 8-7 in game five, but scored the final eight points of the match behind the serve or freshman Marcie Hampton (Gainesville, Fla.). Williams and Collymore had a pair of kills in the stretch, while Hampton added a pair of aces.

"What we learned today is that it doesn't matter how big or small of a team you are if you can play the game," Florida coach Mary Wise said. " I thought Towson would give us trouble and they certainly did today. Now, we’re just looking forward to the announcement of the NCAA field tomorrow."

Williams was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, while Collymore was also named to the All-Tournament team.

Collymore entered Florida's all-time top 10 for career kills with her performance as she now has 1,056 in her career. Collymore also added 11 digs and five total blocks, including four solo blocks. Freshman setter Angie McGinnis (Fraser, Mich.) fared well for the Gators as she had a double-double with 57 assists and 15 digs with five kills and four blocks. Senior Lauren Moscovic (Stockton, Calif.) moved into seventh place in school history for career digs after finishing with a career-high 23, while junior libero Rachel Engel (Littleton, Colo.) also added 23 digs.

The Gators fell behind Towson in the opening stages of the first game and nearly overcame a five-point deficit late, but couldn't quite pull off the comeback as Towson won 30-27. The Tigers got off to a quick start, building a 14-7 lead. The Gators narrowed the gap to two at 14-12 after a Towson attack error, but the Tigers again pulled away, amassing a 27-22 lead. Florida again responded as the Gators scored four straight points to come within one at 27-26 after block assists from senior Michelle Chatman (Woodridge, Ill.) and sophomore Stefanie Douglas (Temple, Texas). Collymore led Florida with five kills, while Moscovic had nine digs in the game.

Florida again fell behind in the second game, but the Gators came back from a 10-point deficit to even that match at one game apiece in a 30-26 win. Towson again jumped out to an early advantage as the Tigers led 12-3 and later by 10 at 16-6 and 21-11. But the Gators then began clawing back into the game with Florida reeling off six straight points on the serve of Engel to close the gap to three at 22-19. Following a Tiger point, the Gators tallied the next five points in taking their first lead of the game at 24-23 after a Collymore kill. Towson fought back and regained the lead at 26-25, but the Gators closed out the game by scoring the final five points on the serve of Chatman with a Towson attack error sealing the game. Collymore had eight kills in the game, while McGinnis had six digs.

Florida led through the opening stages of the third game before a crucial 5-0 run by Towson gave the Tigers a six-point lead late in the game and was enough padding in a 30-28 win. With the game tied at 9-9, Florida went on a 4-0 run to take a 13-9 lead. The Gators led at 17-13 after a kill from Hampton before Towson went on a 5-0 run to take the lead at 18-17. Florida came within one at 21-20 following a Collymore kill, but the Tigers again scored five straight points in assuming a 26-20 lead. Florida rebounded to come within one at 29-28, but the Tigers held on for the win. Collymore had six kills in the game for the Gators, while Moscovic had eight digs.

Florida dominated the fourth game from the outset as the Gators broke away from a 5-5 tie by scoring seven straight points en route to a 30-15 win. With Moscovic serving, the Gators turned a tie game into a 12-5 lead. Florida gradually extended its lead before going on a 5-0 run to push the lead to 12 at 22-10. The Gators eventually closed out the game on a kill from freshman Kari Klinkenborg (Highlands Ranch, Colo.).

Florida will await its fate in the NCAA Championship with the selection show set to air Sunday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. on ESPNews. Florida has made the NCAA Championship in each of the last 13 seasons and has hosted at least the opening round every year since 1991. For updated information on Florida in the NCAA Championship Sunday evening, log on to www.GatorZone.com

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