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Sunday October 31, 1999Volleyball Takes SEC East With Sweep of USC

COLUMBIA, S.C.

Nearly 900 ghouls, goblins and Gamecocks could not scare No. 4 Florida as it used its best three-game blocking effort this season to win its 17th consecutive match and capture its fifth straight Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title with a 15-7, 15-4, 15-3 sweep of South Carolina at the Volleyball Competition Facility Sunday afternoon.

Florida (21-2, 12-0 SEC) posted 10 team blocks, led by junior Heather Wright (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) with five (one solo, four assists) and sophomore Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree) with four assists, to hold South Carolina (12-9, 6-4 SEC) to a zero hitting efficiency.

"We had to get in a side-out rhythm," Coach Mary Wise said. "We knew our best chance was to block well. Our offensive numbers today says a lot about our hitting efficiency, too."

The Gators netted a .342 hitting efficiency, marking the fifth straight match they've been above .300. Florida had 37 kills. In game two, they only recorded two errors. Florida's transition defense also performed well, out-digging South Carolina 40-33.

Senior All-America Jenny Manz (Orange Park, Fla./Middleburg) notched her 12th double-double on the year with a match-high 11 kills and digs, while adding three blocks, including a solo. Three players had errorless performances. Wright hit a match-high .643 with nine kills on 14 attempts. Jerilyn Hattendorf (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles) posted five kills on nine attempts for a .556 percentage. Freshman Tammy Foxworth (Joliet, Ill./Joliet) put down two kills. Hattendorf added two blocks.

"Jerilyn played outstanding," said Wise. "She is right where she should be in her junior season and is really coming together for us. She can be a secret weapon sometimes."

After a closely contested first game, Florida came away with a huge second-game win. The Gators broke away from a one-point deficit, their only hole all day, to score seven unanswered points to go up 8-2. A late-game surge put Florida in position to win. With Hartley serving, Florida scored five straight with a Hattendorf kill, a pair of block assists by Hattendorf and Wright, and a Manz block solo. Wright finished it off with a kill after three side outs. In the third frame, Florida hit a match best .429 efficiency and rolled out to a 12-0 start.

The Gators lead the series 22-6 all-time since 1984 and 17-1 under Wise. Florida has won 12 in a row over the Gamecocks.

Florida returns to the Stephen C. O'Connell Center for the first time in three weekends to face Tennessee Thursday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. The Sunshine Network and WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live.

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